My seven-year-old is REALLY into movies right now, and I enjoy writing movie review articles, so this weekend we went to see Sony’s new film, Peter Rabbit, a modern adaption of the beloved Beatrix Potter books. Going on, I was not really concerned about their being anything in appropriate for him, and honestly as we left the theater, I still wasn’t concerned. Peter’s pranks on Mr. MacGregor in the film reminded me very much of “Home Alone,” and my son and I both laughed A LOT. I also enjoyed that by the end of the film, Peter realized he was being selfish in both trying to get rid of Mr. MacG and in his treatment of his fellow bunnies. He did a lot of behavior changing and outright apologizing, confessing, and making amends, and there were some good lessons there.
So, I was surprised this morning to read of parental outrage about the film, in what critics are calling food allergy bullying. However, as soon as I read the headlines, it hit me: yep, I knew what scene they were talking about and I could see where they were coming from.
The Tale of Peter Rabbit and the Food Allergy Bullying Controversy
Early on in the film, Bea (the rabbit’s champion and caretaker) tries to give her new neighbor (old MacGregor’s great-nephew, Thomas MacGregor) some water with blackberries, and he tells her he is allergic. Much later in the film, after Thomas has made many attempts to hurt or kill Peter Rabbit and his friends to keep them out of his garden, Peter and his pals pelt MacGregor with a variety of foods in an epic life-or-death battle — and one of those foods is blackberries. One of the rabbits slingshots a blackberry RIGHT into Thomas’ mouth, and he immediately goes into anaphylactic shock, taking out an EpiPen to save his own life.
Honestly, at the time, it was just one more scene in a kill-or-be-killed comic battle between the rabbits and the Englishman. Let me be clear, EVERYONE was trying to harm each other. Mr. MacGregor was not an innocent. HOWEVER, I think using a food allergy as a weapon in a children’s film was a very, very, VERY bad idea, and I can see why parents are riled. Imagine being with your allergic child in the movie theater and seeing it dawn on their face that someone could use their allergy as a weapon to hurt or kill them?
Yeah, that might scar a kid for life and lead to some serious new fears. And kids with life-threatening food allergies have ENOUGH to worry about. It’s a shame that Sony added food allergy bullying to the list.