Peter Rabbit filmmakers apologize for mocking food allergies after call for boycott

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I’m somewhat peeved that Fifty Shades Freed was top at the box office this weekend. I have zero investment in hating that franchise except for the couple of hours I spent trying to read and mentally edit the first book. I’ve seen none of the movies, but I’ve only heard bad things about them and it kind of confirms this idea that male-dominated mediocrity is the theme of 2018. (I know a woman wrote the books, but I’m sure you can see my point.) Anyway Peter Rabbit was second despite being a family-friendly film. That fared slightly better with critics and got a 58% on Rotten Tomatoes vs. FSF’s 11%. Some people understandably hated Peter Rabbit though, like parents who aren’t yet immune to the garbage that passes as children’s entertainment along with some parents of kids with allergies. Some took offense at a scene where rabbits used Mr. McGregor’s blackberry allergy against him, necessitating the use of an epi pen. Some people even called for a boycott, saying that the scene encouraged bullying of kids with allergies.

“Peter Rabbit” powers-that-be hopped into mea culpa mode after a scene in the movie involving a serious food allergy sparked criticism and an online boycott.

In a joint statement with filmmakers, Sony Pictures said that they “sincerely regret not being more aware and sensitive to this issue, and we truly apologize,” AP reported.

In the big-screen adaptation of the Beatrix Potter classic, released Friday, Peter Rabbit’s neighbor Mr. McGregor is allergic to blackberries. No matter, the rabbits hurl the forbidden fruit at the man, who’s forced to use an EpiPen. The movie, praised for its animation, has been criticized for turning bunnies into bullies.

Kids with Food Allergies, a children’s organization, posted a “heads-up alert” on Facebook for parents so they could have an “opportunity to discuss food allergy bullying and ‘jokes’ with their child before seeing the movie,” they noted. They added that the post “immediately went viral.” Twitter users started using the hashtag #boycottpeterrabbit.

In addition, Kenneth Mendez, the president and CEO of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, wrote an open letter stating that “it is extremely important that people with a food allergy avoid the food to which they are allergic, as contact with their allergen can cause a life-threatening allergic reaction. People with a severe food allergy face challenges every day…”

“Food allergies and are a serious issue” and the film “should not have made light” of them “even in a cartoonish, slapstick way,” the movie’s creators said.

[From NY Daily News]

I can anticipate the comments already so let me summarize them: “lighten up,” “people get outraged about anything lately,” “it’s just a joke.” Imagine that you or your child had a life-threatening allergy and that this film aimed at kids not only mocked that, but showed it as a weakness. Imagine seeing that same kid almost die from the allergy, or imagine that you’re experiencing that feeling like you’re about to die. It’s different, right? It would be upsetting to see that in a children’s film as a kid or a parent dealing with that issue. These conversations are important and we don’t always see the other side. That said, the Peter Rabbit filmmakers learned from it and it was a teachable moment. As long as they responded well, which they did by apologizing, I don’t see the need for a boycott, just a discussion.

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PETER RABBIT

 

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132 Responses to “Peter Rabbit filmmakers apologize for mocking food allergies after call for boycott”

  1. Margo S. says:

    As a mother of a five year old with severe food allergies to nuts, eggs and milk, I was horrified to read this… Just wow. No one on production thought that this was a bad idea? No one?! It’s literally assault!

    • secret says:

      Neither of my kids or kids friends have food allergies so the whole “food allergies” issue is not a sensitive topic at my house. BUT for crying out loud, that was an insensitive thing to put in a movie and I agree with your 100% Lets not give kids ideas. An idea can stay in a young kids brain for a while.

    • Beara ears says:

      I think a lot of the stupid, poorly educated mocking is due to it being referred to as “allergy bullying”, which sounds like everyone sat around and laughed at a character with allergies, instead of “premeditated assault”, which it is.

    • Mitastak says:

      Yes it’s terrifying! My son too is allergic to milk eggs and all nuts. Full blown anaphylactic reactions. My nightmare.

    • Sara says:

      I understand what you are saying, but it is not “LITERALLY” assault. No one has assaulted your child.

    • Baby Jane says:

      Ridiculous. They also knock each other with rakes and hoes and bowls and tree limbs. Well, as someone who has a tree in her yard, I am aghast!! Come on people.

    • jwoolman says:

      If all Mr. McGregor did was sneeze a bit, it wouldn’t have been a big problem (especially considering the guy’s usual plan for rabbits….). Or if he just thought that particular fruit was disgusting. Or they forgot about the let’s make fun of food allergies approach entirely and just treated the flying fruit as distractions.

      But anaphylactic shock requiring an epi pen?!? That’s way beyond anything reasonable. People die from anaphylactic shock – a friend died from a bee sting even though she had an epi pen with her. I just can’t laugh about that.

      What were they thinking?!? This is a movie supposedly marketed to children. And they had the heroes trying to kill the villain?!? Would everybody be fine with it if they threw knives at him or used a machine gun on him? The bunnies were trying to kill Mr. McGregor, because they were trying to induce anaphylactic shock. WWBPD? (What Would Beatrice Potter Do?)

      And yes, parents should be concerned about kids imitating things like that and assuming epi pens are no big deal and that it’s fine to mock other kids with serious life-threatening allergies. They are very big deals. Life or death big deals. None of my food allergies are life-threatening, thankfully. But some are. That’s why peanuts and peanut butter have had to be banned from schools for liability reasons – two kids died from peanut flour added to something in a school cafeteria that was previously safe for them, in an attempt to up the protein content. Peanut allergies tend to be of the potentially fatal kind, and some have such sensitivity that they react to just peanut dust in the air or on the hands and face of a classmate. And peanut allergies have been increasing here in the US. Serious food allergies in children are nightmares for their parents. Kids get mocked enough for being different, do we have to add to that? What’s next, in the sequel the bunnies induce an asthma attack in someone carrying an inhaler? Asthma can and does kill also.

      • Caela says:

        Not to mention in the UK there was a daily recent case of a kid being bullied at school. They knew he had an allergy (cheese I think) so they threw it at him deliberately. Taken to hospital but sadly died.

        I think it’s different from a rake hitting someone because kids understand that hurts, because if it happened to them it would hurt. But the allergy thing is more conceptual…some adults don’t even really get it!!

  2. Erinn says:

    I loved Beatrix Potter as a kid. LOVED it. The artwork is so absolutely beautiful – you don’t see that kind of thing anymore in mass produced work. Partially because of time constraints, and partially because we’ve moved so deep into computer artwork – which can still be absolutely breathtaking in a different way.

    I honestly didn’t really understand why people were upset about this – but thinking about a little kid watching that who DOES have a food allergy – that probably is terrifying. I had just looked at it as “but the farmers going to kill Peter” so I kind of cut some slack for using that against him.

    But, kids are little sponges, and my 27 year old brain does not function like a 5 year old brain, so I’m sure that would be very scary for a child. And it’s unfair – it’s kind of setting it up for the crappiest of kids to think it’s okay to throw an allergen at a kid who’s got the allergy.

    • Lara says:

      I think the more problematic part is the bad example. I have not seen the move, but from the description everything seems to be fine after using the epipen.
      I do not have a food allergy, but I am allergic against wasps and an anaphylactic shock usually means at least a night in intensive care, paramedics and all the ecteras.
      Bullying is bad enough but showing behavior that could be live threatening assault without showing the consequences is even worse.

    • WendyNerd says:

      Fun fact: Beatrix Potter was a brilliant natural scientist who theorized about the medicinal properties of penicillin decades before Alexander Fleming. But no one took her seriously because she was a woman and her work was basically thrown out. She wrote and illustrated the Peter Rabbit books to pay the rent and keep her scientific illustration skills sharp. If she’d been appreciated in her time, literally millions of lives might have been saved.

      • magnoliarose says:

        Interesting. This is the 5th or 6th time you came and dropped some knowledge. Now I get your name. Lol I mean that in humor not as an insult.
        Her life story makes more sense in those terms though I don’t know a lot about her. Just basics.
        Hmmm.

    • DSW says:

      There have already been cases of kids maliciously exposing an allergic friend or school mate to their allergen thinking it would “funny”. Just this past month, I read a story of a couple of girls who rubbed pineapple juice on their hands and touched their friend who is allergic to pineapple as a “prank”. She was treated and recovered, but perpetrators could be charged with a felony. It seems irresponsible to portray this type of behavior in a movie marketed to children.

      • Baby Jane says:

        In the Lion King, someone literally MURDERS A RELATIVE. That behavior is pretty bad, too, but I guess since they are lions, and not bunnies or humans, it’s kay.

      • ElleC says:

        @Baby Jane – in the Lion King, the VILLAIN murders a relative by orchestrating a stampede, behavior that is neither glorified by the movie nor easy for a dumb jerk kid to replicate. This movie makes light of the HERO pelting a person with food that can kill them, something well within the means of a dumb jerk kid to replicate, and something the movie treats as funny and entirely without consequences.

        If you don’t see the huge moral difference in messaging there (which is worrying enough), why would some kid?

        I’m pretty sure people wouldn’t be upset if the movie portrayed exposing a person to potentially deadly allergens as a villainous act akin to the murder of Mufasa…

      • Baby Jane says:

        How many kids movies have heroes plotting violence themselves? Against the bad guy, the neighbor, each other… Come on. This is butt-hurt-ed-ness at its finest. Haven’t you all got better things on which to spend your Rage Credits?

      • ElleC says:

        I’m pretty sure families whose kids have ended up in hospital or died because some other dumb jerk kid thought it would be funny or harmless to expose them to allergens don’t have anything better to spend their “Rage Credits” on.

        What do you gain by telling them to sit down? What do you lose if kids movies don’t make a joke out of allergies in future? Either you’re not listening to people who are actually affected by this issue or you don’t care.

      • Baby Jane says:

        It’s answer B. I don’t care. But I do care about this misdirected indignation.

    • DesertReal says:

      I agree Baby Jane.
      Its been almost 25 years since I’ve read Peter Rabbit- but ifnmemory serves, he was a mischievous disobedient lottle rabbit to begin with.
      He conspired to sneak into and steal the farmers food…
      I mean, the pictures were gorgeous but he was an annoying spiteful little $hit to begin with.
      I’m not getting the righteous indignation and outrage.
      Like…did no one read the book before they saw it?
      Did they think he would suddenly have a different personality?
      People are infinitely ridiculous.

      • ElleC says:

        Usually, if you have a trickster anti-hero for children they may be sneaky, mischevious etc but they are also essentially harmless. The original books didn’t have Peter Rabbit using food to provoke a potentially deadly allergic reaction, and it’s especially insensitive given that it’s something real kids actually do to other kids with deadly results. That’s like having Peter Rabbit pull the plug on the farmer’s ventilator, or lace his porridge with rat poison?

        But let’s say for second these families are overreacting… where’s your basic compassion for the fact these kids and their families deal with a life-threatening condition on a daily basis that a lot of people don’t take seriously?

        I bet having a kid with cancer or diabetes or mental illness might make a person extra sensitive, too, but are you putting them down in some other thread?

  3. Who ARE these people? says:

    Those bunnies look evil.

    Also, what an insensitive and potentially harmful plot line.

  4. Junebug says:

    I just don’t understand how no one during the making of this film didn’t say “guys, this bit is a bad idea”?

    • Baby Jane says:

      Because kids’ films have comedic violence of all shapes and sizes, but they forgot the “allergy community” is unnecessarily sensitive??

      • bikki says:

        “but they forgot the “allergy community” is unnecessarily sensitive??”

        woah. when it’s a matter of life or death of your child who has to go to school prepped with an epi-pen just in case an inspired bully decides to play a ‘harmless’ prank, wouldn’t you be concerned and ‘unnecessarily sensitive’ too?

        I’m glad people are being smart about the media they allow their kids to see, and creating conversation regarding this particular movie snippet.

      • Baby Jane says:

        STOP STOP STOP. Most kids’ movies have violence, sexual overtures, and whatnot. This one happened to be about a berry allergy. And it wasn’t a prank- they WERE trying to harm the dude. That was made clear. Enough already.

      • ElleC says:

        @BabyJane I responded to you upthread assuming you just misunderstood why people found this upsetting, but now I see you’re one of those people who doesn’t really believe or care that allergic reactions can be deadly.

        This isn’t some sensitive snowflake sh*t. Your immune system releases a flood of chemicals that cause you to go into shock, your heart races, your skin breaks out in painful welts, your airways narrow choking off breathing, suddenly you’re vomiting, sh*tting yourself, losing consciousness. If you don’t die, you can spend an average two to three days in hospital, and after the first reaction passes, a second wave can follow just hours later. But sure, the kids and families who suffer through this are “oversensitive”…

        PS I don’t have allergies, I don’t have kids with allergies, but it costs me NOTHING to be sensitive to people who do… what do you gain by defending this dumb movie?

      • Baby Jane says:

        I absolutely “believe” allergies can be deadly. Even if I didn’t believe that, they would be, so my “beliefs” are irrelevant. Plus, you don’t know me or my dietary needs/preferences.

        You know, my kid once lived in a haunted resort but I didn’t go around boycotting Hotel Transylvania, so.

  5. BearcatLawyer says:

    I have a life-threatening allergy to cranberries and must carry Epi-Pens. Luckily it is fairly easy to avoid cranberries except during the Thanksgiving-Christmas season. But just a couple of weeks ago at a party several tipsy people around me were drinking Cosmopolitans and could not understand why I kept well away from them. I explained my allergy, which is always met with disbelief (“I have never heard of an allergy to cranberries!” “Well, you have now.”), and the fact that any contact with their drinks could kill me in minutes. This naturally led to them joking a bit about how easy it would be to murder someone with allergies and whether I should try to get desensitized to cranberries like their friend of a friend’s kid who was deathly allergic to peanuts and now can be around them again. 🙄 Yeah, because all food allergies are the same in everyone…sigh.

    So it saddens me that a film for children would include a scene like this. Anaphylaxis is no joke. Epi-Pens are meant to give a person enough time to get to the hospital, not necessarily stop a reaction cold. And the aftermath of any exposure can be intensely painful for days. There is just nothing funny about this.

    • Margo S. says:

      Bearcat, I’m so sorry you have to deal with that. A cranberry allergy would be terrifying because it is so rare.

      My son has severe food allergies to nuts, eggs and dairy and o have people all the time saying to me, “well he can get decensitized now!” And I politely tell them, “no actually, he can’t because since his allergy is so severe, he doesn’t qualify.” It’s ok though, the more we talk about food allergies, the more people will start to understand.

      • BearcatLawyer says:

        The rarity was a big problem. I actually had three episodes of anaphylaxis before I figured out what was causing the attacks. Many foods and drinks now use cranberries to add colour instead of using red dyes. Yay for natural colours; boo for me! But you know what it’s like always having to watch what your son eats and what people around him are eating and asking questions about ingredients no matter what.

        Ironically, restaurants and bars are great about my allergy compared to random people. When I was staying at the Wynn in Vegas, they entered my allergy into the computer so all the staff were aware of it everywhere I ate and drank within the hotel. One morning at breakfast they were serving a bread basket with cranberry orange muffins as an accompaniment, and the chef delivered my meal himself and assured me that none of my food or the cooking utensils used had come in contact with cranberries. It was seriously impressive, and they made me feel that they cared about my having a good time.

    • zuzusgirl says:

      I am violently allergic to kiwi, mango and papaya and mildly allergic to guava. There is nothing funny about not being able to breathe. I think the biggest issue (from what I’ve read) is the deliberate potentially deadly assault on Mr. McGregor. Who the hell approves something like that for a kids movie? Some bully/kids will get ideas from this.

  6. Livethelifeaquatic says:

    Right to be upset. Food allergies are not fodder for jokes. I don’t believe in making fun of food choices, either. I can’t telk you how many friends and acquaintances think it’s okay to make comments on what I eat…and it’s not even extreme just healthy and GF. Annoying.

  7. Goats on the Roof says:

    Some middle school girls from Pennsylvania are facing criminal charges for attacking one of their allergic classmates with pineapple juice. The girl had to be given an epipen and taken to hospital.

    The last thing we need when bullying is at a high is a children’s movie giving kids ideas on even more ways to be cruel.

  8. V4Real says:

    Yep, I’m one of those, so have at me. Um, this is fictional right just like the evil Queen trying to kill Snow White with an Apple, just like Sleeping Beauty being permanently put to sleep. Wait what about Scar killing his own brother to be King. Tom and Jerry, That damn coyote trying to kill the road runner bird. Or what about that farmer who was always trying to shoot bugs bunny with a gun. If you think about it most of these animated films that we take our kids to see has some form of violence to it, as heck, let’s ban all animation as oppose to teaching our kids it’s not real. How many kids actually believe that rabbits can talk and attack people.

    How about using it as a teaching moment.

    • EnnuiAreTheChampions says:

      I think the differences here are that the bunnies are supposed to be the heroes, and that a very specific issue that only affects some kids and makes them feel different is played for laughs.

      • Maria says:

        Exactly what I was going to say – your examples are the bad guys, the villains. No kid is going to copy them! Children often have a simplified black and white thinking and Disney uses that. Villains are evil and everything they do is bad and is not supposed to be done or you’re one of the bad guys as well. The bunnies on the other hand are heroes, everything they do is good and encouraged to do

      • Algernon says:

        The bunnies are not the heroes, though. It’s very clear in the scene they have gone too far and this was not just pranks but actual cruelty. The story is basically a step-father moving in and the kids acting out, and the blackberry thing is the moment they realize they have crossed a line and become the villains of their own story. Peter Rabbit is not a great movie but I was surprised by this controversy because the context of the scene is that food allergies are *not* a joke and you shouldn’t use them against people, it’s mean.

      • Baby Jane says:

        Algernon. Voice of reason and, you know, reality. THANK YOU.

    • HelloSunshine says:

      As someone mentioned above, there is actually a very recent case of kids using a girl’s allergy to bully her to the point of sending her to the hospital. Kids can be cruel and don’t think things through and seeing that in a movie being cheered on because Peter Rabbit did it and he’s the hero is definitely an issue. Having worked in schools with children who have food allergies, I can promise you those kids would watch that scene and probably leave the theater. It’s life or death for many of them, seeing that played out in what’s sipposed to be a light hearted kid’s film isn’t okay.

      • V4Real says:

        I work with kids with food allergies. People in my family including my 8 year old nephew has food allergies . Not really an allergy but I can’t eat any type of eggs. If I do it will be vomit city
        I haven’t seen the movie but my nephew did and he loved it. I will ask him how he felt about the bunnies using the man’s allergy against him. But I’m sure he’s going to find it funny becase he knows it’s not real. Those kids you speak of are horrible kids and there seems to be more of an underlining issue with them. But hero’s in kids movie’s and animation sometimes do bad things as well to defeat the bad guys. In almost every animation or kids movie where there was a villain the heroes fought back with violence. How did AJ character defeat the evil King in Maleficent with her good looks.

    • jwoolman says:

      Those scenes typically are not graphically showing reality. Snow White just gracefully slips into a coma. She doesn’t react like someone really poisoned is likely to act, which would be rather disturbing. The murder in the Lion King, I assume, didn’t show all the gory details.

      This scene seems different, especially since it’s a scenario that children have actually played out in real life against other children with such life-threatening allergies. Cartoons are always minimizing the reality of the injuries inflicted, but in today’s world we don’t really need to teach kids such lessons. And I can guarantee you that many children in the audience do not have parents who will point out the problems with such approaches. Heaven forbid they be wimpy special snowflakes who make a fuss.

      Americans are shy about showing naked bodies (look at how they alter Japanese anime, even drawing pants and shirts on characters) to kids in cartoons but are much more tolerant about violence. Maybe it’s time for a change. I lost my tolerance for the dog chases cat who chases mouse thing in Tom & Jerry the day my cat was killed, while resting in her own back yard, by a dog on the loose (who had a history of almost killing another dog). Racism was present with wild abandon in cartoons also, until people got tired of it.

  9. Jenna says:

    I agree with the poster. Good fodder for discussion – no need to boycott the film. I face derision daily for my celiac disease. Not quite the same thing – but I get sick of insensitive fb posts where people are making fun of gluten free foods.

    • Livethelifeaquatic says:

      Meeeee too! Like how does my being gluten free affect your feelings? Made up? Tell that to my swollen, itchy red joints mere minutes after eating something gluten heavy.

      • HelloSunshine says:

        The only time I’ve hated on gluten free posts are from people who don’t have a medical need to cut it out and are making restaurant staff’s lives harder for it. Celiac’s disease and gluten intolerance is very real and very painful and I hate people who give those who have a real need to cut it out a bad name. So I have called someone out before but I promise I had a good reason lol

      • bookgrl63 says:

        I think it’s because gluten-free has become something of a trendy diet. People who don’t have celiac decide to cut out out gluten even though it doesn’t have any effect.

    • Amy Tennant says:

      A boycott seems like an overreaction to me, but I’m all about the right to protest, especially with your dollars. So go ahead, allergy moms! I’m not boycotting, but I wasn’t going to see Peter Rabbit anyway!

      I empathize with anyone who has an invisible illness. I have a few myself.

    • Who ARE These People? says:

      Ditto here, too. The sooner biomedical researchers can develop pills to manage gluten intolerance (celiac and non-celiac), the sooner people with these problems won’t have to deal with all the social aspects.

      I’ve been asked on the buffet line exactly what happens to me if I eat wheat … I swear, one of these days my answers will be graphic and explicit.

      I’ve learned that servers consider many people asking for gluten-free foods to be “fakers.” I’m in my 60s: Do I still need a note from the doctor?

      I’ve been lied to by restaurant owners and gotten uncontrollably ill hours later, ruining days out of costly vacations and putting me in difficult transit situations.

      I’ve had my own knowledge of my own medical history and requirements questioned by people who should show respect and consideration.

      And then there’s the old: “We have gluten free bread!” “Do you have a dedicated toaster?” “No!”

      If you live in a community with a Celiac Awareness program for restaurants, please support it and patronize participants. If your community doesn’t have one, consider starting one! Credentialed dietitians can train restaurant owners and staff in all aspects of cooking and serving.

  10. Isa says:

    It’s scary because so many food allergies are easily accessible. There are grown adults that don’t even take people’s allergies seriously.
    My kid’s allergy put her in the children’s hospital for a week.

  11. Angie says:

    Seriously? lol people need to stop being special snowflakes and not take things so hard.

  12. yUPtime'sUP says:

    If a giant bad guy w a weapon came after me, threatening the lives of my vulnerable community, I would use any means of defense. Isn’t that the underlying message? I don’t see the rabbits as bullies- rather in collective thoughtful defense. This whole issue stinks of “don’t tease the dictator”, and perhaps it’s me in reaction to today’s head spinning world issues.

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      Maybe that’s how a highly literate and politically attuned adult might see it, but the audience is children.

      Let the bunnies throw rocks but not exploit a medical vulnerability known to many in the audience,their friends and classmates. It’s just off-base and part of the trend of making fun of or belittling people with food allergies and intolerances.

      • Tobbs says:

        But with that line of thinking we need to remove a lot more violence from kids movies. For instance there’s a problem that a lot of kids grows up thinking you can knock someone out cold without any other consequences than them passing out for a few minutes before waking up again, dubbed the james bond-effect by some. Kids learns that you can throw rocks and knock people in the head with sticks, pans etc. Like Rapunzel with the iron cooking pan for laughs or to solve problems. And nowhere in these movies are the consequences discussed on how severe head trauma can be and the lifelong consequences even a relatively innocent act can have. What do we do about those? We need to claim responsibility for the moral education of our kids. Teach them that actions in the real world have real consequences and even though it’s okay to joke about things sometimes we need to be understanding towards those we meet in real life with challenges different than our own.

      • rrabbit says:

        I disagree. Throwing rocks at people is a lot more dangerous for the vast majority of people than throwing blueberries.

        I can see an argument for having neither in a children’s movie. Say, I consider those Tom and Jerry cartoons over the top violence unsuitable for children. But the universe where throwing rocks at people is fine in a children’s movie while throwing blueberries is not is a strange one.

      • Numi says:

        yeah the audience is children WATCHING WITH AN ADULT IN THE HOUSE/SCHOOL/CINEMA

        its whats called a ‘teachable moment’ after watching the film when it will likely come up anyway.

        Heres a goddam thought, stop BANNING things that teach kids things even if done in an funny anarchic way that may appear ‘insensitive’ to some poor snowflake…

      • Amy Tennant says:

        Whoa, who said banned? The last I heard was some people are going to boycott in protest. Which they’re allowed to do. They can protest. They can vote with their dollars. They can express themselves. I have zero problem with that.

        When it comes to taking away other people’s access to material, that’s where I draw the line. Make the decision for your child, but not mine.

      • Amy Tennant says:

        I guess what I’m saying, bottom line, is that I’m deeply sympathetic to the mothers of children with life-threatening allergies. Ultimately I support both the first amendment rights of both the movie studio to make the picture the way they wanted to, and the first amendment rights of the parents to demonstrate against it. No reason we can’t have everyone heard.

    • Heat says:

      The point is not about whether the farmer is bad or not.

      The point IS: This movie announces that you can potentially kill someone you don’t like, by forcing them to ingest something they are allergic to. Great message.

  13. Amy Tennant says:

    Fortunately we don’t have life-threatening food allergies in my family (yet and that I know of– isn’t that a scary thought). I’m very thankful for that, believe me.

    Evidently, kids who have food allergies are all too commonly bullied by having food thrown at them, as apparently happens in the movie.

    One of my friends recalls her son being terrorized every day in kindergarten by a kid who kept saying he had a peanut and was going to make the boy eat it. If that doesn’t sound like a big deal, substitute the word “gun” for “peanut.” Then imagine you’re a little kid. He knew one peanut could kill him.

    I’m inclined to be on the side of the upset parents here, even though it doesn’t affect MY kid. Children are cruel enough without being given ideas. I’m not going to advocate for censorship though. People can feel free to boycott if they wish. I support that.

  14. Suki says:

    I’m part of the ‘everyone is too outraged’ camp so shoot me.

    I grew up on Don Bluth films like An American Tale and The Land Before Time as well as films like Watership Down – all very dark subject matter. Traditional fairy tales are also incredibly dark. The WORLD is very dark and this is a ‘softer’ way for children to become acquainted with the world before they grow up and realise that reality does not sugar coat things.

    If parents would rather there children did not watch then that’s perfectly fine and in that sense, it’s a good thing that the film comes with a warning but they should not need to apologise simply because some people are offended.

    • Kkhou says:

      As a mom to a kid with severe food allergies, I would say the food allergy kids are the least likely to think the world is sweet and sugar coated. They are all very aware of dangers in the world, which, in their case, includes the danger of accidentally ingesting their allergen. These kids are constantly checking and double checking their food; they bring separate treats to parties and sit out of activities that aren’t safe for them participate. And I never hear them complain- it’s just their life.

      The problem is that food allergies are still considered funny and are trivialized. People don’t believe they are real or the danger. This makes it even harder to keep kids with food allergies safe. It wouldn’t be funny to make fun of cancer or another chronic illness, but food allergies are fair game.

      And, I do know a kid who gets taunted with his allergen at school. I think “gun to the head” is a good analogy. I also know kids who become more compassionate and caring in making sure their food allergy friends are safe and included.

      • Suki says:

        I don’t really understand where the ‘people think food allergies are funny’ argument stems from. I went to school with several children with food allergies and I work with a colleague who has a nut allergy. It’s never not taken seriously or treated as a joke. Kids will pick on anyone for anything and food allergies are one thing out of millions a child may choose to pick on.

    • Amy Tennant says:

      You are probably right. I also don’t think an apology is necessary, but it is good public relations and damage control.

      On the one hand, I’m kind of like, this is like saying video games and movies make people violent, blah blah blah… On the other hand, it’s the sheer accessibility of using someone’s foodborne allergens against them that makes it a little different. I watched GI Joe obsessively as a kid, and it didn’t make me shoot everything with an Uzi, but it’s also not like I had an Uzi in my pantry…

      Basically, I don’t think the filmmakers did something “wrong” that they need to apologize for, but clearly it struck a nerve and a warning is a good idea. They should have thought about it more before including that scene (but I’m not sure I would have caught the problem myself). I truly sympathize with the upset parents, and I totally get why they’re upset, and why they’re protesting, and I support their right to do that too.

    • hogtowngooner says:

      Same here. It’s dumb and mean, sure, but the reaction has become really over the top IMO. I have food allergies, too, btw.

      I’m more annoyed that the makers of this film decided Peter Rabbit should basically be Logan Paul in bunny form. I believe the Potter family raised concern about the bastardization of a beloved character. The berry-pelting scene falls into that, sure, but it’s far from the main problem with this movie.

    • jwoolman says:

      The apology is reasonable because I doubt that they made a deliberate decision to do the scene that way with full awareness of what they were actually doing. They were proceeding from ignorance and needed to be called out on it.

      The same thing happens with unthinking racism that has always found its way into animation and books and such, including those aimed at least partially at children. Just look at some old cartoons and comedies and read some old children’s books some time. It’s rather startling even to a pale person like myself, I can’t even begin to imagine how it might affect a child who is in the target group. It’s absolutely right to identify such racism and explain why it’s a problem both for kids who are the target and for kids who are not.

      I don’t believe anybody associated with that scene even thought about how the bunny heroes were trying to kill the guy by anaphylactic shock and what that really means and how an epi pen needs to be followed up by a fast ride to the hospital, where the person can still die. Somebody thought “wouldn’t it be funny if the guy was allergic to blackberries and the bunnies threw them at him and he had to use an epi pen?”. And nobody in the room knew enough about life-threatening allergies that require toting around an epi pen to say “whoa – that’s a really bad idea.” Now they know.

  15. Mle428 says:

    My niece has a severe egg allergy. So severe, that we had to call 9-1-1 during her first reaction (she was a week shy of 12 months old). I’m a medical professional, and had the added layer of terror during that ordeal, knowing there was NOTHING my training could do for her.

    I have Celiac Disease, so I’m already sensitive to people’s food allergies and intolerance, and know all the allergies on my street! Lol!! We had friend whose kid had a peanut allergy, and I was always super careful when I brought food over. She wasn’t as thoughtful, and would make comments like, “Oh. I need to give up wheat so I can lose some weight,” and would bring stuff to potlucks with hidden wheat in it, saying it was safe. Needless to say, we don’t see them anymore.

  16. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Love the books. We have all of them, and I have a huge canvas painting of a scene from the first book which was done for me upon the birth of my oldest. I find it very distasteful they thought to include a scene requiring an epipen because of bully behavior. Beatrix Potter would hate it. Considering how this series came to be, her education (when women normally didn’t go to college), her scientific illustrations and her extensive work with preservation as well as biological studies including diseases and remedies for those diseases, the producers should be ashamed of themselves. The Potter series should celebrate an extraordinary life, not entertain modern desensitized children with cheap laughter. Just mho. Potter shouldn’t have been their vehicle… put that stuff in the Lego movies or the million other loud and crass romps.

    • Amy Tennant says:

      Isn’t it that way with so many modern adaptations? Probably has fart jokes too

      • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

        Yes and no. I wish they’d have taken Potter’s just a tad more respectfully ya know? But that’s me. My boys always rofl to fart jokes. My youngest is about to be in junior high, and I swear to gawd, just say the word ‘nipple’ within earshot and he personifies Beavis and Butthead. But many movies pay proper homage to their beginnings like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Narnia, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Wizard of Oz, Bridge to Terabithia, Willy Wonka, Jungle Book, Polar Express, Spiderwick Chronicles, Charlotte’s Web, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, there’s ‘literally’ a ton.

  17. vauvert says:

    We have friends whose children have severe (life threatening) allergies. We’re lucky ours doesn’t but I don’t need MY kid to be in danger to see how utterly wrong this is. How on earth did the studio think it was ok to be portraying this? And I don’t give a fig about their apology, because the kids watching the movie will never see or hear the apology. All they’ll remember is the movie. I’m all for boycotting it. Children die from anaphylactic reactions. There is nothing funny about it. Shame on the studio. People who don’t think this is worth getting upset about are insensitive – try switching the scenario with a bunch of white bunnies assaulting a brown bunny; does it still seem funny or inoffensive, because hey, they’re bunnies in an animated movie? Every time someone is bullied or assaulted because they’re different is wrong, and the fact that this is a kids’ movie makes it worse.

    • Amy Tennant says:

      I don’t think the farmer was assaulted BECAUSE he’s allergic and therefore different. I think he was assaulted with the food he was allergic to because he was trying to kill the bunnies, and they were using the food as a weapon to fight back. In the movie context it wasn’t “bullying because he’s different.” It wasn’t “Ha, let’s pick on and possibly kill that MacGregor because he has allergies and is different from us”

      Not that it makes trivializing anaphylactic reactions okay. Just context in the movie. For kids who might do it in real life it would be bullying.

      Like someone said upthread they shouldn’t have attached the word “bullying” to it. It was use of deadly force

      • BearcatLawyer says:

        Yet children might well get the message that “fighting back” against children with food allergies can include using their allergens – their weakness, if you will – against them. That is not a message I would ever want a child to internalize, especially when the consequence could be death.

      • Amy Tennant says:

        Oh yeah, I’m with you on that, Bearcat. I was only clarifying the context because vauvert’s statement about “imagine a bunch of white bunnies assaulting a brown bunny” and “everytime a person is bullied or assaulted because they’re different is wrong” made it sound that maybe part of the problem was bullying and singling out. Which in the film it wasn’t. The criticism about the anaphylaxis is so very valid. And it doesn’t matter what the reason was that they did it.

      • Amy Tennant says:

        Apparently I was even wrong– they did ridicule him!

  18. Veronica Shields says:

    I wouldn’t boycott it, but honestly, they might have wanted to think that one through a little more before putting it in the film. Anaphylactic shock isn’t a joke. I’ve seen plenty of people die from it from my years working in a hospital.

  19. Zeddy says:

    … yeah trust me, kids aren’t trying to poison one another and this isn’t going to help them either. It’s not like problem child, and disney fairytale ever, or Dennis the menace caused an uptick in child on child crime. Y’all need to chill.

    • Juls says:

      Would you say that to a child that has a peanut butter sandwich smashed into his face by a bully that knows he has a peanut allergy? ” He’s not trying to poison you or KILL you, just chill!” SMDH. I pray that never happens to a child you love. Wake up. Sociopaths only exhibit signs of violent rage once they become adults, according to your logic.

      • Tobbs says:

        If a child would smash peanut butter in the face of an severely allergic child after being informed by adults in a serious and teaching manner how important it is for that child to avoid peanut butter then that child would need immediate care and evaluation.

        Nowhere in Zeddys comment was it implied that she found violence towards an allergic child OK or diminish the importance of an reaction to such an act. She stated, correctly, that there’s been no recorded increase in kids copying or being violence towards each other after watching violent cartoons or movies. The kids that are violent with intent suffers from other conditions than being exposed to violence in cartoons.

        Argue your cause as much as you want but please refrain from implying that anyone who disagrees with you wishes harm on children.

      • Juls says:

        @Tobbs, I never stated that the OP wishes harm on children because they disagreed with me. Literally. Never. Said. That. Please read my comment, slowly if necessary, and point out where I said that. I. Didnt. I made a valid argument against the post and you couldn’t refute it so you put words in my mouth that weren’t there. Bye.

      • Tobbs says:

        And I didn’t say that you literally said it either, I said you implied it. Not being outraged with the scene in the movie doesn’t mean that one wouldn’t be outraged by the scenario you have kept posting in this thread. And by drawing a false equivalence between the two you are actively shutting down any conversation that doesn’t align with your views. By assigning a much worse scenario to the one Z was commenting on you pacify her because she now has no other choice but to agree with you lest she be labeled as someone who think deliberately exposing a child to a life threatening situation is OK. Suppression techniques like that kills any chance of a healthy dialogue between people and frankly the level of hostility in your comments against those who don’t share your exact views says a lot about you.

    • Veronica Shields says:

      Yeah, I don’t think it’s going to cause a sudden rash of violent behaviors from children. Plenty of hyperviolence elsewhere in fiction.

      This being said, I do think those types of scenes unintentionally contribute to the general cultural misinformation about how serious those issues can be. An EpiPen will save your life, but too often movies pretend that’s the end of it. It’s usually followed up by a trip to the hospital. You’d be amazed at how many restaurants I’ve been at treat my (relatively mild) food requests like I just asked the chef to cut off an arm before making it.

      • Amy Tennant says:

        Not to mention that an epipen doesn’t even always work

      • Tobbs says:

        It definitely contributes to misinformation and misconceptions about epipens. It’s similar to the misinformation movies and tv spreads about many medical issues from how dangerous head trauma is to how difficult revival/CPR are in real life. I do think we have a special responsibility with food allergies to educate ourselves and our children, especially since allergies require daily considerations while the other examples thankfully are rare occurrences in most peoples lives.

    • CairinaCat says:

      There is literally a case right now where two girls poisoned another girl by putting the pineapple juice she was allergic to on thier hands and touched her.
      That girl is in the hospital and the two who did it will be facing criminal charges.

      So yeah, actually, kids do do that

    • jwoolman says:

      Zeddy – anecdotal evidence of at least temporary effects on behavior from tv and video games is quite real. Boys seem more susceptible than girls. In video games and fast-paced tv shows, for example, it seems hard for them to turn off the adrenaline rush. Once triggered, they have trouble returning to normal. I’ve heard this many times from parents.

      A few examples:

      I was looking at video games in a store long ago and the clerk told me that he wouldn’t let his five year old play Mortal Kombat (this was a long time ago, without the realistic graphics available today) but his neighbor let the kids play it. He finally had to tell his son that he wouldn’t be allowed to go next door if he came home one more time and started pushing and hitting his little sister… That behavior was so otherwise uncharacteristic, he always knew that the kid had been playing Mortal Kombat.

      Another five year old had aggression problems big time for months after he just watched his older cousins play fighting video games for a few hours. It took a lot of effort on the part of the parents and teacher and a therapist to reverse the behavior. Just watching the game under such conditions somehow flipped a switch in him. I think some kids are just extremely susceptible at certain times, a lot of the problems seem to come around that particular age. That was the most extreme case I ever heard about, but stories about temporary behavior problems especially in boys are not rare in discussions among gamers. By a certain age, it is not such a problem, but it varies from child to child. I wouldn’t worry so much about adolescents but would insist that we discuss the games together. I would feel the same about tv or movies. Images are much more powerful than words to humans and bad images are really hard to get out of your head.

      On a game forum, one father of a two year old said that he and his wife had to stop playing certain games in front of the toddler. In particular, he mentioned Bonk, with a little cave boy character who went around bonking things with his head to progress in the game. Their little boy would imitate Bonk and bonk his much softer head against the walls… I’ve played that game a bit, and the graphics are pretty simple. So the toddler was picking up imitatable behavior from a rather primitive source, which is rather remarkable to me. I haven’t kept up with such discussions, but I wonder if the problems are greater now that the graphics are so much more realistic. We’ve advanced quite a bit from the old original Game Boy when the battles between your team and the monsters in Final Fantasy were as abstract as a chess game: you heard some smashing sounds, the screen flashed some light with no images except a cartoon star shaped thing to represent a fight, and then the computer told you who won….

      A friend with four year old twins had been letting them watch Power Rangers unsupervised, back in the first season when it really had only a few minutes of very stylized fighting and the rest was harmless stuff about friendship and responsibility and those really cool vehicles they used. She said she had to hang up because the show was over and the boys always started fighting each other at that point, in a rather dangerous way for the boys and the furniture. If it were me, I would never let them watch it without me in the room, letting them know what’s ok and what isn’t and why. Makes a huge difference with young children, whether it’s a tv show or a video game. Parents have said many times that they can prevent over the top responses to such shows just by being in the room and issuing gentle reminders occasionally. But notice that the boys focused on and responded to the few minutes of fighting in an otherwise peaceful show.

      I’ve heard parents say playing video games with their young children is really good for the kids – for one thing, the adult can do moves that the kids can’t handle yet but the kids can be involved in decisions. This is especially true for slower moving games like the Zelda series. Also if there is anything dubious about the game play, as for tv shows, they can pause the game and talk about it and about what behavior in real life is acceptable and what is not. If the kids are off by themselves playing or watching tv in their room unsupervised, these are not teachable moments.

      One gamer mom said her little boy really liked playing cooperative games with her, the type where both players work together while controlling different characters (for example, Mario and Luigi in the Supermario games). She had the skills to get him past obstacles so he could enjoy more of the game. I’ve heard other gamer parents say their young children really enjoy seeing mom or dad just play the game.

      Anyway, young children do pay attention to what they see on a screen and at certain ages, the way they process such information is nothing like the way an adult or much older child processes it. Parents need to be careful even about the evening news, in my opinion. Consider how just Trump’s candidacy caused a very real increase in bullying of immigrant, refugee, and Muslim children by other kids who were very obviously imitating Trump, even mentioning him by name. It became such a problem that at least one educational organization came up with resources for teachers to use in dealing with it. It’s nice to think that kids’ worst impulses after viewing such bad behavior will be restrained by their parents, but for a certain percentage that will simply not be true and other children will suffer for it. Bullying behavior based on tv or YouTube seems to happen even with older children and adolescents. They see things and decide to try them out.

  20. Penfold says:

    I saw the movie, and after Mr. McGregor tells Bea he has a blackberry allergy, Peter Rabbit kind of mocks him about it to the other rabbits, and then faces the audience and says something like ‘ I know food allergies are no joke, some people really have them, we don’t want any letters about this’…

    So, they knew the ‘joke’ was a touchy subject, but they included it anyway. I thought they could have cut the whole thing out. It wasn’t particularly funny, and to see the rabbits slingshot blackberries at someone with a severe allergy wasnt cool. I know the farmer was trying to kill them, and they wanted revenge, but using a food allergy was not the way to do it. Especially in a kids movie.

    I give the movie a 5.5/10. There were some cute bits and the animation was terrific, but overall not a classic.

  21. Nilber says:

    My son (14) brought this to my attention yesterday. I was rather impressed with his school’s response the principal and nurse both spoke with the students about the issue. They had a rather in-depth conversation and discussion with the students about real life effects of allergies. My son’s school is small but I appreciated the way they handled it.
    The principal brought up an old Simpsons episode that dealt with Bart vs his principal and asked the kids the difference between that vs this movie. My son told me he felt the big difference was the target younger audience. As a teen you realize actions and consequences the way a younger child might not. It boggles that teenagers came to realization that adults did not.

  22. Patty says:

    It’s a movie. Far worse things happen in movies everyday. Women are routinely raped and murdered; is everyone boycotting those movies too? Ever seen The Good Son? There have been movies actually made where kids are psychotic killers (cause it sometimes happens); are we boycotting those because we’re now afraid that kids may get an idea on how to murder someone?

    Is there going to be a retroactive boycott on Hitch (his allergic relation to shellfish was definitely played for laughs)

    In the movie the scene with the blackberries is more of a now the bunnies have crossed a line moment. It’s a movie, a movie about sentient talking rabbits. I’m worried that so many people on this board seem to think children are incapable of knowing that Peter Rabbit isn’t a real and just a fantasy.

    Any kid that would purposely harm another person isn’t going to be looking at movies for ideas.

    • Amy Tennant says:

      Point taken, although I think if rapes and murders happen in movies aimed at small children, they’re probably also going to be targeted for boycotts.
      I appreciate the point that you and others have made that the scene in context represents a moment where the bunnies know they have crossed a line. I myself and probably many of the other commentators have not seen the movie and can’t speak to how the incident is portrayed.

    • jwoolman says:

      Actually kids do pick up ideas for tormenting other kids from movies and tv shows and videos online. They see something and want to try it. Their impulse control often isn’t great. Sometimes the followers are simply following a pathological leader, and followers can go either way depending on who they follow. But to the genuine surprise of their parents, they do go along with the most atrocious things sometimes.

      You may not see this in your children because you actually talk with yours and teach them things about being good people.

    • Suki says:

      Completely agree with you Patty. Children have been doing bad things LONG before film and television. The media may not be completely toothless but it is also often used as a scapegoat. Although LOTF is just a book, it’s an interesting exploration of how children can ‘regress’ to very natural, primitive and destructive behaviour. Often, that energy needs to be channelled into play and activity so children burn out. The reaction to this movie is totally over the top.

  23. mk says:

    Epi Pen product placement?
    Why is peter rabbit sexy in above pic?

  24. Myhairisfullofsecrets says:

    My husband and daughter have severe food allergies and must have an Epi-Pen with them at all times. With that being said, I feel like this boycott business is silly. It’s a kids movie. If someone’s child is bullying another child based on their food allergy, that’s on the parents for not teaching them to respect their peers and the dangers of food allergies. The movie is not at fault. I’m being sincere in my opinion and not trolling in anyway.

  25. justcrimmles says:

    Has no one else noticed they’re also stuffing an exhaust pipe full of carrots? Peter was mischievous, not a deranged a$$hole.

  26. eto says:

    I understand the outrage…but isn’t the rabbit kind of the villain in this? I saw a trailer where it alluded that the rabbit stuck a carrot up Dohmnhall Gleeson’s ass so I’m surprised there’s no upset about that…

  27. Megan says:

    This actually happened to my son once. A kid chased him with his allergen all around. He was afraid for his life. Thankfully, I was there, but if it had happened without me? Scares me to death. We won’t be seeing this movie.

  28. aenflex says:

    Doesn’t McGregor cook the rabbits into pies, tho? I mean if you read Beatrix Potter to your kids, if you read them any real literature at all, they’re going to get worse that this.

  29. KicktheSticks says:

    It’s a KIDS MOVIE. They throw fruit at the villain. People are seriously bent out of shape about this? If your kid is mean enough to throw allergen food at a kid with a known allergy, the problem is not that they saw the movie but that your parenting SUCKS. My kids would not ever do something like that to anyone, whether they see it in a movie or not, because I’ve taught them not to be a bully and to be compassionate. Any kid who is that nasty had those problems LONG before watching Peter Rabbit. I’m taking them to see this. Calls for a boycott are ridiculous.

  30. lis says:

    What a shame! I am grateful to be made aware of this scene as my 11 year old daughter is a massive Beatrix Potter fan and we would definitely have been going to see this movie. Unfortunately she also has a life threatening egg allergy and has suffered hospitalisation and trauma as a result so being able to at least discuss this with her before choosing to attend is helpful and appreciated. Some people find it difficult to understand how frightening it is for a child to know that common foods they see others eating could kill them. To have such a sharp, experiential understanding of mortality from a young age is pretty tough. For those who don’t get that – lucky you not to get that.

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