FILE - This image released by Columbia Pictures shows Peter Rabbit, voiced by James Corden and Cottontail in a scene from "Peter Rabbit." The filmmakers and the studio behind it are apologizing for insensitively depicting a character's allergy in the film that has prompted backlash online. Sony Pictures said Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018, in a statement the film "should not have made light" of a character being allergic to blackberries "even in a cartoonish" way. (Columbia Pictures/Sony via AP, File)
Photo: Courtesy of Sony Pictures/AP
Photo: Courtesy of Sony Pictures/AP

‘Peter Rabbit’ filmmakers apologize for ‘food allergy bullying’ scene

Parents of children with food allergies are criticizing Sony Pictures’ new movie, “Peter Rabbit,” saying it makes light of such allergies and encourages bullying.

The New York Times reported that the movie, based on the Beatrix Potter children’s book, features an animated rabbit and other animals trying to get access to a garden from a garden owner, played by a live actor. 

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Domhnall Gleeson plays Tom McGregor, the owner of the garden. In the film, McGregor is allergic to blackberries. The animals rig a slingshot to get him to eat some of the fruit. The actor is seen choking, and he collapses as he struggles to get an EpiPen. The rabbits cheer as he lays on the ground.

“I’m pretty sure Beatrix Potter will be turning in her grave about now,” Sam Rose, of Surrey, England, told The New York Times. “Allergies are often not taken seriously enough anyway. To have them trivialized on the big screen by such a popular character is immensely disappointing.”

Rose says her son, who has food allergies, loves Peter Rabbit, but she won’t be taking him to see the film.

People reported that some responded on Twitter with #BoycottPeterRabbit.

Kenneth Mendez, president and CEO of Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, said the film’s mockery of food allergies is harmful.

“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 wrote in an open letter Saturday.

Sony Pictures issued an apology in a statement to The New York Times, attributed to the film’s director, writers and producers.

“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,” the statement said. 
“We sincerely regret not being more aware and sensitive to this issue, and we truly apologize.”

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