Despite food allergies being at almost epidemic proportions all around the world, it may seem that no one with an allergy, or who has a loved one with an allergy, was involved in making the new Peter Rabbit film, that’s set for release in Australia next month.
Which is why the movie contains a scene where the much-loved Beatrix Potter character and his friends attack the nephew of Peter’s nemesis, Mr McGregor, with blackberries. The group know that McGregor is allergic to the berries, and shoot one into his mouth. He has an immediate anaphylactic reaction and gives himself a life-saving shot from his Epipen.
Scary stuff for any child to watch, especially one who has a life-threatening allergy.
The makers of the film, Sony Pictures, are now facing an international boycott, because the gratuitous ‘allergy bullying‘ depicted as comedy is a real issue for many allergy children.
Allergy UK has said that the scene mocks allergy sufferers and is irresponsible. Carla Jones, the charity’s CEO, told the Telegraph, “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.”
— Karen Costa (@karenraycosta) February 10, 2018
Australian group Global Anaphylaxis Awareness and Inclusivity (Globalaai) has created a petition asking distributor Sony Pictures to apologise, saying the film “mocks the seriousness of allergic disease and is heartbreakingly disrespectful to the families of those that have lost loved ones to anaphylaxis”.
The petition observes that the scene “mocks the seriousness of allergic disease and is heartbreakingly disrespectful to the families of those that have lost loved ones to anaphylaxis.”
American advocacy group Kids with Food Allergies Foundation said in a Facebook post warning parents about the film that “food allergy ‘jokes’ are harmful to our community”.
“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,” their post reads.
Another US group, Food Allergy Research & Education also posted a warning to members which says,
“Reviews of the movie Peter Rabbit as well as personal accounts from members of our community indicate there is a scene in the new family film released this weekend in which a character experiences a life-threatening reaction after being purposely targeted with his allergen.We want to make you aware that viewing this scene may be upsetting to some children.”
Sony Pictures said in a statement the film “should not have made light” of a character being allergic to blackberries “even in a cartoonish” way.
Let’s hope that at least the incident raises further awareness of allergies in the community.
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