The new film “Peter Rabbit” has found itself the target of calls for a boycott by parents who are demanding an apology for a controversial scene dealing with food allergies.
The scene in question shows Peter Rabbit and his friends trying to get away from the villain Mr. McGregor. They throw blackberries at him, which Mr. McGregor is allergic to. As a result, he starts choking and has to inject himself with an epinephrine pen.
According to CNN, the “Peter Rabbit” film was inspired by the classic British children’s book written by Beatrix Potter. In the film, the blackberries were at the center of one of many attack plots the creatures carried out to win an ongoing feud with Mr. McGregor.
Parents who have children with life-threatening allergies, however, are condemning the movie on Twitter, using the hashtag #boycottpeterrabbit.
Dr. Purvi Parikh, an allergist and immunologist at NYU Langone Medical Center, said that mocking a serious issue like this is dangerous. He claims there have been many cases in which children with food allergies often have their intolerances used against them by school bullies.
In response, Sony Pictures and the filmmakers of “Peter Rabbit” issued an apology, saying, “Food allergies are a serious issue. Our film should not have made light of Peter Rabbit’s arch nemesis, Mr. McGregor, being allergic to blackberries, even in a cartoonish, slapstick way. We sincerely regret not being more aware and sensitive to this issue, and we truly apologize.”
The New York Post reported several quotes from angry parents on social media. One mother tweeted, “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 aggravated assault!”
Another mother made a comment on Facebook saying, “Please boycott the Peter Rabbit movie. As a mom of allergy kids, I find it really disturbing Sony thinks its OK to make a joke of deadly food allergies.”
The foundation Kids With Allergies wrote an open letter to the creators, asking them to re-examine their portrayal of food allergies and refrain from mocking them in the future.