Peter Rabbit has garnered mixed reviews from critics, but the new cinematic update of Beatrix Potter’s classic children’s book series is getting a definitive two thumbs down when it comes to a scene involving a food allergy, which some are criticizing as being irresponsible and potentially deadly.
In the scene, Peter Rabbit (voiced by Late Late Show host James Corden) and his animal pals attack a man with blackberries, knowing he’s allergic to them, with the character (played by Domhnall Gleeson) forced to inject his leg with an Epipen.
As The Guardian reports, a number of advocacy groups are taking issue with that scene in the film, with Australia-based Global Anaphylaxis Awareness and Inclusivity (Globalaai) leading the way by launching a petition asking Sony Pictures to apologize, stating the movie “mocks the seriousness of allergic disease and is heartbreakingly disrespectful to the families of those that have lost loved ones to anaphylaxis.”
In addition, U.S. organization Kids with Food Allergies Foundation issued a Facebook post warning parents about film over “food allergy ‘jokes’ [that] are harmful to our community.”
The new movie, Peter Rabbit, has a scene that may be disturbing to young viewers who have a food allergy. A character is…
“Making light of this condition hurts our members because it encourages the public not to take the risk of allergic reactions seriously,” added the post, “and this cavalier attitude may make them act in ways that could put an allergic person in danger.”
Sony Pictures and the Peter Rabbit team apologized for the scene in a joint statement published by The Associated Press. They said “food allergies and are a serious issue” and the film “should not have made light” of a character’s allergies “even in a cartoonish, slapstick way.”
The studio and the filmmakers said they, “sincerely regret not being more aware and sensitive to this issue, and we truly apologize.”
Those with food allergies and parents of children with food allergies have started taking to Twitter calling for moviegoers to #BoycottPeterRabbit.
As a mother of a toddler allergic to several foods, I am disgusted that Sony would make a joke out of flicking an allergen at a food allergic individual. Doing so is felony aggravated assault! What kind of message does that scene send to kids?! #boycottpeterrabbit
— hydrogirl71 (@hydrogirl71) February 10, 2018
Raincoats may be cute, but to support a movie that promotes bullying to children with food allergies is disgusting. Shame on @SonyPictures for finding humor in bullying children like my daughter. Sickening. #BoycottPeterRabbit @FoodAllergyBuzz @FoodAllergy https://t.co/RDSeXX96a6
— Tom Murray (@thomascmurray) February 10, 2018
— Michelle (@DecaturMichelle) February 10, 2018
@SonyPictures What a disgrace – teaching children it's okay to bully and harass others with food allergies. You obviously have no staff with children who could DIE from food allergies. #attemptedmurder #foodallergies #boycottpeterrabbit
— Allison Wells (@OrangeAlli) February 10, 2018
Would you laugh at a person with diabetes force fed sugar? No. But that's exactly what you're doing in your movie: continuing to marginalize people with #foodallergies.
So throw an allergen at someone? I’m coming for you.#BoycottPeterRabbit
— ☘️ Jamie ☘️ (@jamiefid) February 10, 2018
If you're thinking of taking your kids to see this "children's movie," please reconsider. Why are kids with deadly food allergies a punch line? What were they thinking? #PeterRabbitMovie #boycottPeterRabbit https://t.co/2i21emYddj
— Karen Costa (@karenraycosta) February 10, 2018
There is a scene in the movie when someone who has food allergies is intentionally targeted. food allergies are real & my son could DIE if he ate something he’s allergic to -It’s not something he asked for it’s just something he lives with educate yourself #boycottpeterrabbit
— tired mom of 3 (@angelaaragon51) February 10, 2018