Today, I’m going to talk about the so-called controversy that has come from the children’s animated movie, Peter Rabbit. Sony pictures has been under the receiving end of a lot of outrage over a scene that has now been deemed controversial. I actually took my 5 year old granddaughter to this movie, so yes, I’ve seen it. Let me paint the scene for you.
Peter Rabbit and his friends are at odds with the villain in the film, Mr. McGregor, during the course of the film, the animals over hear Mr. McGregor state that he has a food allergy to black berries. Upon hearing this, Peter Rabbit kind of pokes a little fun at Mr. McGregor with an “Oh… everyone’s allergic to everything these days” and a little wink to the camera. Which unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know to be true. Yes, there are people with allergies, but he’s mainly implying all of the self-diagnosed allergies (gluten is a huge one. Side note: don’t say you’re allergic to something like gluten unless you actually have celiacs disease.)
Fast forward to a little later in the film when Mr. McGregor is trying to kill them and the little precious fur babies sling shot a black berry into his mouth and Mr. McGregor has an allergic reaction. He turns red and begins choking, luckily he jabs himself in the leg with an epi pen…. And from there, the backlash began.
The Backlash for Peter Rabbit
There are parents of children with allergies boycotting the film and calling the scene disgusting, there are allergy advocacy groups stating that the scene mocks children with allergies. The Kids With Allergies Foundation released a statement saying, “We are aware that the reactions about this movie by our community are mixed. It is unnecessary for a film to show the characters intentionally attacking another with his food allergen to trigger anaphylaxis. Portraying anaphylaxis as a joke can cause some people to have a cavalier attitude about food allergies which can put kids with food allergies at risk. We are asking filmmakers to work with us to raise awareness about the seriousness of food allergies, and help us promote positive attitudes and safe environments for kids with food allergies.”
Kenneth Mendez, president and CEO of the Asthma and Allergy Association of America, wrote an open letter to the makers of the film. He encouraged them to ‘refrain from the type of programming that mocks food allergies in the future.” He also pointed out that other children’s films by Sony have included similar scenes mocking and misrepresenting people with food allergies.
Sony and the filmmakers released a joint statement, “Food allergies are a serious issue. Our film should not have made light of Peter Rabbit’s Arch nemesis, Mr. McGregor, being allergic to back berries, even in a cartoonish, slapstick way. We sincerely regret not being more aware and sensitive to this issue and we truly apologize.”
Food allergies are a serious business, and all families should be aware of how potentially life-threatening they can be. But maybe we need to remember that this is a scene between a rabbit and a villain who is trying to kill his entire family. It makes me miss the days of watching poor Wile E Coyote fall to his death Saturday after Saturday because that Roadrunner kept out smarting him. And no one boycotted.