A new Peter Rabbit film is currently playing in theaters — but if some parents have their way, it won't be for long. Many believe a scene in the film dangerously jokes about food allergies, and some parents advocates of kids with allergies are calling for a boycott of Peter Rabbit.
The film, which features a combination of live-action actors and CGI characters, stars James Corden as the mischievous Peter Rabbit, as well as Rose Byrne, Daisy Ridley, Sia, and Margot Robbie. The scene in question shows Peter Rabbit and his animal friends throwing blackberries towards the mouth of Mr. McGregor, played by actor Domhnall Gleeson, because they know he is allergic to blackberries, according to the New York Times. Mr. McGregor then has to inject himself with an EpiPen before getting anaphylaxis and collapsing.
As anger over the scene grew online, Sony Pictures, who produced Peter Rabbit, and its filmmakers released an apology statement. “Food allergies are a serious issue. Our film should not have made light of Peter Rabbit’s archnemesis, Mr. McGregor, being allergic to blackberries, even in a cartoonish, slapstick way," reads the statement, as per the New York Times. “We sincerely regret not being more aware and sensitive to this issue, and we truly apologize.” Sony Pictures did not immediately respond to Romper's request for further comment.
After the movie hit theaters over the weekend, The Kids With Food Allergies Foundation shared a post to Facebook warning parents that Peter Rabbit could be upsetting for children with allergies. The post explains:
Making light of this condition hurts our members because it encourages the public not to take the risk of allergic reactions seriously, and this cavalier attitude may make them act in ways that could put an allergic person in danger.
The foundation also wrote an open letter to Sony Pictures, who produced Peter Rabbit, further explaining how making fun of food allergies can put people in danger.
Recently, there have been distressing accounts of children using food to bully and assault children with food allergies, and some cases have resulted in death for the child with food allergies and criminal charges for the attackers.
And instead of calling for a boycott or censorship of the movie, the Kids With Food Allergies Foundation offered to educate those involved in the film on the severity of this issue.
We would welcome the opportunity to educate your company and the cast of the movie about the realities of food allergy so that they and your viewing audience can better understand and recognize the gravity of the disease. We would like to work together to promote positive attitudes and safe environments for those with disabilities such as food allergies. We encourage you to examine your portrayal of bullying in your films geared toward a young audience. We strongly urge you to refrain from the type of programming that mocks food allergies in the future.
Many others have taken to Twitter to criticize Peter Rabbit for portraying food allergies in a joking way, with some calling for a boycott of the movie.
Additionally, more than 10,000 people signed a petition urging Sony Pictures to apologize — which, as mentioned above, it did.
Interestingly, on Kids With Food Allergies Foundation's Facebook page, some parents of children with food allergies argued that the film was not an issue for their kids.
"For goodness sakes.....I saw this movie tonight with my 10 year old who has a food allergy and not once did the scene in question make me think that the movie needed to be boycotted," commented a user named Julianne Cain Kiewitt. Another commenter suggests that the film is a good way to set an example of what not to do. "We love bunnies and are very excited to see Peter Rabbit," commented Carrie Newton. "I think it's a good opportunity for parents to discuss with their children what NOT to do after seeing the movie and talk about allergies and how they are a real thing." Whichever side you're on, the debate has certainly raised awareness of the seriousness of food allergies for many kids.
For advice on how to deal with food allergy bullying, click here.
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