Sony Pictures and the Peter Rabbit filmmakers have apologised for making light of allergies following calls to boycott the movie, which hit U.S. cinemas over the weekend.
A scene in the new adaptation of Beatrix Potter’s classic shows character Tom McGregor, who’s allergic to blackberries, being pelted with the berries by Peter and his friends. One of the berries lands in Tom’s mouth, and he has to use an EpiPen to treat his allergic reaction.
The scene prompted a massive outcry on social media, and many parents called on people to boycott the film, which they deemed to find “humor in bullying” people living with allergies.
Brittany Dye, a parent of a child with a severe food allergy, penned an open letter calling on Sony Pictures to pull the film, which she said “mocks children with disabilities.”
“If someone launched green peas, or lentils, or any of the other 6 foods my son is allergic to into his mouth the way the rabbits did to McGregor in the movie with blackberries, he would need timely epinephrine. If he did not receive it, he would likely die,” wrote Dye in the letter.
One parent of a daughter with allergies called the scene “sickening.”
“Please stop showing anaphylaxis as something that is funny,” wrote another person on Twitter.
Another parent of a child with “severe food allergies” called the film “absolutely disgusting.”
Absolutely disgusting. My son suffers from severe food allergies, and on top of my wife and I worrying about that every second of they day, now we have to worry about a film where his allergy and lifestyle is mocked? No one @SonyPictures thought this was an issue? What a joke. https://t.co/CXHGcnLy2D
— Chris R. Vaccaro (@ChrisVaccaro) February 11, 2018
In a Facebook post, the Kids With Food Allergies (KFA) Foundation wrote that the scene “may be disturbing to young viewers” with food allergies.
“KFA believes that food allergy ‘jokes’ are harmful to our community,” read the post. “During a reaction, patients require the life-saving drug epinephrine and must go to the nearest hospital for follow-up treatment.”
They added that the scene was harmful to those living with allergies. “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,” the post continued.
A spokesperson for Sony Pictures said in a statement that the film “should not have made light” of the character’s allergy “even in a cartoonish, slapstick way.”
“We sincerely regret not being more aware and sensitive to this issue, and we truly apologize,” the statement continued.