That so-called “rascal rebel” Peter Rabbit has gotten himself into too much trouble this time. Sony Pictures has apologized following the backlash to the allergy bullying scene in their new Peter Rabbit film.
“Food allergies are a serious issue,” Sony Pictures and the Peter Rabbit filmmakers said in a statement, according to Reuters. “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 apologize.”
In a scene in the Peter Rabbit movie, the devious Peter and his friends start attacking Peter’s archnemesis, the evil Mr. McGregor, by throwing blackberries at him despite his allergy to the fruit. Mr. McGregor starts choking after coming in contact with the blackberries and has to give himself a shot of epinephrine. Blackberries were a key part to just one of many fights in the feud between Peter and Mr. McGregor, according to CNN.
While the filmmakers saw this as a “slapstick” joke, many parents were deeply offended that the children’s movie made light of allergies, and showed the anthropomorphic rabbit and his friends using someone’s allergies to attack and hurt him.
Many thought making fun of life-threatening allergies could be dangerous and pointed out that bullies have used allergies to hurt other kids in the past and could do it again after seeing it on screen.
Parents of kids with allergies took to Twitter to blast the children’s movie and started a campaign to boycott Peter Rabbit using the hashtag #boycottpeterrabbit.
The Kids With Food Allergies Foundation, which is a part of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, also wrote an open letter to Sony and the Peter Rabbit filmmakers slamming the film for their allergy bullying scene. Similarly, the Global Anaphylaxis Awareness and Inclusivity organization and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation also called out the movie for being “disrespectful” to people who have allergies and their families.
Others, though, thought that the parents and critics were being too sensitive and that they were overreacting to the scene in the children’s movie.
Ultimately, though, Sony and the Peter Rabbit filmmakers apologized for mocking what could be a deadly situation and not considering how people with real, serious allergies would feel.