Well, Sony has truly gone down the rabbit hole, if concerned movie-goers are any indication following this past weekend’s release of the live-action version of Peter Rabbit, starring James Corden, Rose Byrne, Margot Robbie and a slew of other notable actors.
The box-office film, which is loosely based on the Beatrix Potter book that has graced children’s bookshelves for decades, features the rascally little bunny fighting it out against the “evil” Mr. McGregor, (Domhnall Gleeson) for dominance over the vegetable-filled garden. As the pair try to one-up each other the film goes to some pretty dark places. Namely, a gag in which Peter takes advantage of Mr. McGregor’s blackberry allergy by shooting one into his open mouth.
While the scribes probably didn’t think twice about the scene, it was enough for people to mount a #BoycottPeterRabbit campaign. Their main concern? The entire thing makes light of actual allergies and even potentially teaches children to use an allergy to do harm to another. It’s also probably pretty scary for a kid with a severe allergy to see the film and watch a grown man collapse on the floor, apparently choking from having been forced to ingest a blackberry.
Sure, cartoons have probably done much worse over the years (just think of Looney Tunes and all of those ACME products that the characters purchased to do each other harm), but in this day and age where allergies are more concerning than ever–and children have, in fact, died as a result of food allergy bullying–it’s being seen as a pretty irresponsible move. Especially for a major studio, which should probably have research teams and quality control over such things.
At least the company has issued an apology, saying they should not have made light of the issue.
“Food allergies are a serious issue. Our film should not have made light of Peter Rabbit’s archnemesis, Mr. McGregor, being allergic to blackberries, even in a cartoonish, slapstick way,” Sony said in a statement following the backlash. “We sincerely regret not being more aware and sensitive to this issue, and we truly apologize.”
That’s all fine and well, but the damage has been done and plenty of people online are calling for the film’s boycott.
Would you laugh at a person with diabetes force fed sugar? No. But that’s exactly what you’re doing in your movie: continuing to marginalize people with #foodallergies.
So throw an allergen at someone? I’m coming for you.#BoycottPeterRabbit
— ☘ Jamie ☘ (@jamiefid) February 10, 2018
@SonyPictures What a disgrace – teaching children it’s okay to bully and harass others with food allergies. You obviously have no staff with children who could DIE from food allergies. #attemptedmurder #foodallergies #boycottpeterrabbit
— Allison Wells (@OrangeAlli) February 10, 2018
Someone I love has a food allergy. it’s not fun, it’s terrifying especially when they are children. @SonyPictures makes a kids movie and a character is attacked with food he is allergic to and causes anaphylaxis #boycottpeterrabbit #BoycottPeterRabbitMovie
— chely (@chelybelly02) February 11, 2018
And then there are those who just don’t see what the big deal is at all.
Just read this drivel today, #boycottpeterrabbit people getting offended over kids films. I remember violent cartoons as a child and I don’t recall brutally killing anyone growing up. Have some faith in your kids, breathe, and remember its just a stupid film about talking rabbits
— Nick Fitzpatrick (@nicknogger) February 11, 2018
Wtf is the world coming to let’s ban movies completely just in case if you want to get indignant about something pick a war or social injustice etc but please leave the poor rabbit alone snowflakes #boycottpeterrabbit
— Gareth Humphreys (@LordGJH) February 11, 2018
At the end of the day, people are allowed their opinions. But it is important to remember that while cartoon violence is nothing new, food allergies are a serious and growing real-world issue and kids (and adults) could die from them. So perhaps at least a disclaimer was required? Or, maybe Peter and his cohorts could have attacked the angry man in another way entirely.
We hear anvils are coming back in style.