The new ‘Peter Rabbit’ movie has faced criticism from allergy suffers over a scene in which characters deliberately pelt an allergic man with blackberries.
American allergy organisation Kids With Food Allergies Foundation, who saw the scene ahead of the film’s cinematic release, made others aware of what happened on Facebook on 10 February, writing: “The new movie, Peter Rabbit, has a scene that may be disturbing to young viewers who have a food allergy.
“A character is intentionally attacked with his allergen, leading to anaphylaxis and the use of epinephrine [medication reversing allergy reactions].
“Parents should be aware of this before your children see the movie so you can talk with your child(ren) about it.”
The organisation went on to say they believe food allergy jokes are “harmful”, adding: “During a reaction, patients require the life-saving drug epinephrine and must go to the nearest hospital for follow-up treatment.
“The very real fear and anxiety that people experience during an allergic reaction (often referred to as an impending sense of doom) is a serious matter.
“Making light of this condition hurts our members because it encourages the public not to take the risk of allergic reactions seriously.”
In response to their concerns, the organisation wrote a letter to Sony Pictures and the makes of the film, which they posted on their website. They are calling for the scene to be withdrawn from the film, which is set to air in the UK in March 2018.
Carla Jones, CEO of Allergy UK called the scene “unacceptable”, saying in a statement: “Anaphylaxis can and does kill. To include a scene in a children’s film that includes a serious allergic reaction and not to do it responsibly is unacceptable, as is bullying.
“Mocking an allergic disease shows a complete lack of understanding of the seriousness of food allergy and trivialises the challenges faced by those who live with this condition, particularly parents who live in fear of their child suffering a life threatening reaction.
“We will be communicating with the production company about the film’s withdrawal.”
A petition was also started on Change.org to get the scene cut from the film, attracting nearly 10,000 signatures at the time of writing. People also expressed their views of the scene on Twitter, using the hashtag #BoycottPeterRabbit.
Sony Pictures and the filmmakers have apologised for the scene and said in a 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. We sincerely regret not being more aware and sensitive to this issue, and we truly apologise.”