You’d think beloved children’s book character Peter Rabbit would be the last thing to stir controversy among parents, but a scene from the new live animation movie based on the character has sparked debate around the world.
The scene in question shows rabbits intentionally attacking a human with a food he is allergic to in order to provoke a reaction. The human character has a severe allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis, and is forced to himself with his epinephrine injection.
Now organisations in the US and Australia have called for parents to boycott the movie, claiming it promotes “food allergy bullying”.
A viewer advisory post on the Kids With Food Allergies Foundation Facebook page has attracted more than 2000 comments and been shared close to 12,000 times since Saturday.
“The new movie, Peter Rabbit, has a scene that may be disturbing to young viewers who have a food allergy,” the post read. “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.”
They also wrote an open letter to Sony, the company behind the film, calling them out for using “food allergies as a punchline” saying they need to educate themselves on the seriousness of the matter.
Their Facebook post has caused plenty of debate among parents, health professionals and allergy sufferers with many taking to social media to add their two cents.
“… cartoon characters do brutal and terrible things to each other, all the time, and always have. And until recently, people realized that it was a CARTOON. (Remember Tom & Jerry? Wile E. Coyote? STEWIE???)” one woman wrote.
“Get the heck out of here with your complaints. Its a fictional childrens film for Christ sake. And yes, I’m an ER nurse, so I know all about anaphylactic food allergies, [SIC]” added another.
Others deplored the nature of the scene and said they would not be taking their children to see the film.
“Thank you for the heads up. We will not be seeing this movie,” one woman wrote. “Attacking someone by targeting their disability is never okay. Would this movie producer also have thought it was okay to shut off someone’s oxygen?”
Sony is yet to respond publicly to the open letter.