No movie is safe any more, not even something as family friendly-seeming as this past weekend's new all-ages comedy Peter Rabbit. Mixing live-action and CG animation to bring the Beatrix Potter books to life, the latest kids' movie to hit cinema screens is causing an uproar with angry parents. And now they are boycotting the innocent-looking comedy adventure.
Many of the reviews for Peter Rabbit have been quick to point out its dark overtones. Now, protective parents are up in arms over scenes they say promote 'allergy bullying'. In the movie, a group of rambunctious bunnies decided to attack a farmer with blackberries, knowing full well that he's allergic to them and will suffer from rashes or other ailments resulting in an allergy attack. Possibly even death.
The scene in question ends with farmer Tom McGregor ingesting one of the lobbed blackberries. He fights to inject himself with an EpiPen, but goes into anaphylactic shock and has a collapse. This quite upset and angered a number of moms and dads who have children with similar allergies. Now they are telling other parents to protest and boycott the Columbia Pictures release. One mom had this to say on Twitter.
"As a mother of a toddler allergic to several foods, I am disgusted that Sony would make a joke out of flicking an allergen at a food allergic individual. Doing so is aggravated assault!"
The hashtag #BoycottPeterRabbit is quickly making the rounds on social media. Another parent jumped in agreeing that this was bad for the movie, and any kids who might watch it.
"Please boycott the Peter Rabbit movie. As a mom of allergy kids, I find it really disturbing Sony thinks its OK to make a joke of deadly food allergies."
The foundation Kids With Allergies has issued a mission statement on Facebook, also condemning the family film, and have asked that parents discuss the scene in question with their children, to ensure they don't try something like this against another child with a food allergy, thinking it's funny.
"KFA believes that food allergy 'jokes' are harmful to our community ... Making light of this condition hurts our members and it encourages the public not to take the risk of allergic reactions seriously."
CEO of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America Kenneth Mendez went one step further issuing an open letter to the makers of Peter Rabbit. He wants Sony, who distributed the movie, to take a closer look at what they're doing and reconsider their decisions in the future especially when it comes to making jokes about food allergies. The Food Allergy Research & Education organization has also issued a warning about the movie to families eager to see Peter Rabbit in its second weekend. Some are demanding the scene be removed, and that Sony issue an apology to all allergy threatened families. One Australian charity has even started a petition that has thus far reached over 10,000 signatures. On Sunday, Sony Pictures did acknowledge their 'mistake' saying they "should not have made light" of someone with an allergy "even in a cartoonish, slapstick way." They go onto issue this apology.
"We sincerely regret not being more aware and sensitive to this issue, and we truly apologize."
Parents haven't been quick to accept Sony's apology, though. One Florida mom had this to say on social media.
"Besides being absolutely wrong to portray bullying and making it seem 'funny', this is way more than that. This is a child WATCHING, facing a self mortality scene in a children's movie. Jerk move Sony."
Peter Rabbit was beaten at the box office by the third and final Fifty Shades movie, garnering mixed reviews. Sony has not said they will remove the scene in question during its theatrical run, but it's possible that the movie will wind up on Blu-ray and DVD with the scene missing. Warner Bros. pulled a scene of Shaggy and Scooby-Doo doing a whip-it from the second live-action Scooby-Doo movie after its release after parents complained about it. This story first showed up in the New York Post.