‘Peter Rabbit’ food allergy scene elicits backlash from parents
Entertainment giant Sony apologized this weekend for a scene from the new family comedy Peter Rabbit in which the main character – a CGI vermin voiced by late night host James Corden – uses a slingshot to send a blackberry into a farmer’s mouth, causing anaphylactic shock. As several parents point out on social media, the film pokes fun at severe allergies while showing the hero using food as a weapon to overthrow his enemy.
In a press release sent to New York Times, Sony and the filmmakers explain, “Food allergies are a serious problem. Our film shouldn’t have shed light on Peter Rabbit’s nemesis, Mr. McGregor, allergic to blackberries, even in a cartoonish and slapstick manner.
Last week an advocacy group called Kids With Food Allergies issued a warning to its subscribers on the film on Facebook, followed by an open letter to the filmmakers, which reads, in part, “We encourage you to consider your portrayal of bullying in your films aimed at young audiences.” We strongly urge you to refrain from the type of programming that pokes fun at food allergies in the future. Facebook’s original warning has been shared by more than 12,000 since it was posted last Friday, and angry parents have also Twitter this weekend to spread the word about the BlackBerry slingshot sequence.
This scene presents a particularly delicate issue for parents like Sam Rose of Guildford, England, whose son loves Peter Rabbit but suffers from food allergies like the one depicted in the film. “I’m pretty sure Beatrix Potter is going to turn in her grave now,” Rose told the Times. “Allergies are often not taken seriously enough anyway. Seeing them trivialized on the big screen by such a popular character is immensely disappointing. “
So far, the reaction of parents of children with food allergies does not appear to be hurting the film’s box office performance – Peter Rabbit landed at number two during the weekend, just behind Fifty shades lighter, with a loot of $ 25 million.