The makers of the new Peter Rabbit movie have been forced to apologise over a scene which finds one of the characters being pelted with blackberries despite being allergic to them.
There’s been outcry from allergy groups over the sequence, which has been accused of sending a dangerous message to children about a potentially deadly situation.
In the scene, which is billed as comedic, Domhnall Gleeson’s Tom, the nephew of Peter Rabbit’s nemesis Mr McGregor, is barraged with blackberries by the rabbits, who know he is allergic to them.
He inhales one of the berries, and then has to stab himself with an epipen to stave off an anaphylactic episode.
Sony, the makers of the movie, which stars the likes of Gleeson, Daisy Ridley, James Corden and Margot Robbie, has now said that it ‘should not have made light’ of the character’s allergy, ‘even in a cartoonish, slapstick way’.
“Food allergies are a serious issue. Our film should not have made light of Peter Rabbit’s arch nemesis, Mr. McGregor, being allergic to blackberries, even in a cartoonish, slapstick way. We sincerely regret not being more aware and sensitive to this issue, and we truly apologize.”
Nearly 10,000 people signed a petition calling for the apology, but even now, some are still calling for a boycott against the film.
The Kids With Food Allergies Foundation said in a statement: “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.
“KFA believes that food allergy ‘jokes’ are harmful to our community. During a reaction, patients require the life-saving drug epinephrine and must go to the nearest hospital for follow-up treatment.
“The very real fear and anxiety that people experience during an allergic reaction (often referred to as an impending sense of doom) is a serious matter. 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.”
Parents of kids with allergies have taken to social media to voice their anger over the scene.
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 felony aggravated assault! What kind of message does that scene send to kids?! #boycottpeterrabbit
— hydrogirl71 (@hydrogirl71) February 10, 2018
There is a scene in the movie when someone who has food allergies is intentionally targeted. food allergies are real & my son could DIE if he ate something he’s allergic to -It’s not something he asked for it’s just something he lives with educate yourself #boycottpeterrabbit
— tired mom of 3 (@angelaaragon51) February 10, 2018
@SonyPictures I don’t know what you were thinking when making Peter Rabbit. We will be boycotting it along with millions of food allergy families. A schoolboy recently died because of FA bullying. This makes me just sick that you find this entertaining. Do better!
— Jules (@willtwt4politcs) February 10, 2018
Heads up: Peter Rabbit includes bullying by food allergy, as rabbits target villainous character by throwing blackberries at him, including one landing in his mouth, knowing the character is highly allergic. It’s presented as funny, even the epi-pen. #disabilitymedia #notokay
— Shannon Dingle (@ShannonDingle) February 11, 2018