The drama started after the movie (which grossed $25 million over the weekend) premiered last week. In one scene, Peter, who sounds like a real bun's rights activist, gangs up with his animal friends and pelts nemesis Tom McGregor with blackberries. McGregor, as Peter well fucking knows, is highly allergic to blackberries, and when one lands in his mouth, McGregor is forced to inject himself with an EpiPen. (Spoiler alert: The human survives and the rabbit is not charged with felony aggravated assault, which shows you just how much "justice" there is in this world.)
Instead of thanking Sony Pictures for the inclusion, parents of kids with allergies called for a boycott of the film.
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
As a mother of a toddler allergic to several foods, I am disgusted that Sony would make a joke out of flicking an allergen at a food allergic individual. Doing so is felony aggravated assault! What kind of message does that scene send to kids?! #boycottpeterrabbit
— hydrogirl71 (@hydrogirl71) February 10, 2018
- The scene will make you want to vomit, @FoodAllergyBuzz. Sickened @SonyPictures thought that promoting food allergy bullying by Peter and friends would be okay in any movie, no less a children’s movie. Certainly no “humor” in the situation. #BoycottPeterRabbit
— Tom Murray (@thomascmurray) February 10, 2018
As a father of a son who has allergies to peanuts, milk, egg I refuse to watch #PeterRabbit because @SonyPictures is sending a message it’s ok to bully kids with allergies and making it a joke to get a few laughs! What a disgusting thing to do! #boycottpeterrabbit
— L.M. Thomas (@adaddyforlife) February 11, 2018
Naturally, there was a backlash to the backlash.
Laughing at all the grown arse adults boycotting a kids film because there feelings are hurt over an allergy scene 😂😂😂 get in the bin, get a life you sad fuckers #twittermobmenatlity #boycottpeterrabbit what a joke...
— David Murray. (@Dav1dmurray) 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
In a statement, Sony, along with the film's writers, producers, and director said, “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.... We sincerely regret not being more aware and sensitive to this issue, and we truly apologize."
According to group Food Allergy Research and Education, each year around 200,000 people are hospitalized for allergic reactions to food, but mortality is exceedingly rare: a 2017 study found that while up to 5 percent of the population of the U.S. has experienced anaphylaxis, or an acute allergic reation, "fatal anaphylaxis constitutes less than 1% of total mortality risk." When fatal food reactions do occur, however, they tend to get outsized media attention, such as the 2016 case of a 20-year-old woman who was allergic to peanuts and died after kissing her boyfriend.
In response to the kerfuffle, Peter Rabbit creator Beatrix Potter asked "What's Twitter?" and then rolled back over in her grave.