Under the #boycottpeterrabbit tag on social media, parents and some food allergy groups are calling for the boycott of the new Peter Rabbit film. Parents are outraged over a scene in which the rabbits attack their nemesis by specifically targeting his known food allergy. Sony Pictures has since apologized for the scene.
The scene pits the film’s protagonist, Peter Rabbit, against a human villain. After several back-and-forth scenes of varying amounts of cartoon-style violence, the rabbits have a meeting to discuss their conundrum. In that meeting, it is proposed that they attack the human with blackberries, which they know he is extremely allergic to and which he carries an autoinjection device for.
After much debate, the rabbits decide to carry out the attack and then do so. The attack ends in the allergic human (McGregor) having to inject himself with epinephrine and then collapse with exhaustion from the effort.
Parents of food allergic children are outraged over the scenes and demanding a boycott.
After seeing a preview of the film, a parent lodged a complaint on social media, which triggered a response from the Kids With Food Allergies Foundation, who posted a call for boycott on their Facebook page.
“The new movie, Peter Rabbit, has a scene that may be disturbing to young viewers who have a food allergy. A character is intentionally attacked with his allergen, leading to anaphylaxis and the use of epinephrine. Parents should be aware of this before your children see the movie so you can talk with your child(ren) about it.”
A further open letter from Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s president Kenneth Mendez has also been circulated. “he segment featured the intentional attack of the McGregor character with the food he is allergic to – the implication being that the rabbits wanted to kill or harm McGregor with this method.”
A petition calling for an apology was created by the Global Anaphylaxis Awareness and Inclusivity group in Australia saying that the film’s scene “..mocks the seriousness of allergic disease and is heartbreakingly disrespectful to the families of those who have lost loved ones to anaphylaxis.”
The Food Allergy Research and Education group (FARE) also chimed in with a Facebook post warning parents about the film’s content.
Sony Pictures apologized for the scene, saying that “food allergies and are a serious issue” and the film “should not have made light” of a character being allergic to blackberries “even in a cartoonish, slapstick way.”