Sony Pictures apologized Sunday for making light of food allergies in the recent cartoon adaptation of the popular children’s book “Peter Rabbit” after parents complained.
“Food allergies are a serious issue. Our film should not have made light of Peter Rabbit’s archenemy, Mr. McGregor, being allergic to blackberries, even in a cartoonish, slapstick way,” Sony said in a statement after viewers complained and started an online petition objecting to the “allergy bullying.” “We sincerely regret not being more aware and sensitive to this issue, and we truly apologize.”
One scene in “Peter Rabbit,” which took second place in box office earnings this weekend behind only the erotic sequel “Fifty Shades Freed,” shows the mischievous creatures inspired by the work of Beatrix Potter pelting their adversary Mr. McGregor with blackberries, even though the character is allergic. At one point, a berry lands in McGregor’s mouth and the man has to use an epinephrine pen to stave of anaphylactic shock, according to The Washington Post.
After the movie’s release Friday, allergy advocacy groups were quick to criticize the filmmakers for victimizing people with allergies in a kids movie. Kids with Food Allergies Foundation, a division of Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, posted on its Facebook page that the scene “may be disturbing to young viewers who have a food allergy.”
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Australian allergy non-profit Globalaai posted a petition on Change.org that attracted 10,000 signatures over the weekend. The scene is “a socially irresponsible depiction in a movie aimed at children and based on an iconic and classic children’s story,” the group wrote.
When the rabbits shoot blackberries into McGregor’s mouth “there’s a close-up of his face, and it’s him holding his neck like he’s choking,” Kenneth Mendez, president of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, told The New York Times. After McGregor goes down, the rabbits cheer.
“Making light of this condition hurts our members because it encourages the public not to take the risk of allergic reactions seriously, and this cavalier attitude may make them act in ways that could put an allergic person in danger,” Mendez’s group said in a statement.
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