There’s a new kids movie out called Peter Rabbit. If that title sounds familiar, it’s because it is. The film, starring Domhnall Gleeson, Rose Byrne, and the voice of James Corden, is based on Beatrix Potter’s classic Peter Rabbit books, first published more than a century ago. Of course, the material had to be updated to make it appealing to today’s kids. Unlike, say, those delightful and gentle Paddington movies, this update/adaptation went the abrasive “this ain’t your grandma’s Peter Rabbit” route—the plot involves Peter Rabbit, a sarcastic, obnoxious bunny in the tradition of Bugs Bunny, waging all-out violent, Home Alone-style in-home war against a newer, younger Mr. McGregor (Gleeson).
One part of the modern climate the movie somehow ignored: bullying. Getting kids to stop being horrible monsters to each other at school and on the playground has become a major international movement over the past few years. It’s brought teasing in all its forms to the forefront, and there are a lot of different kinds. Sure, there’s racial and sexual orientation and appearance-based bullying, but kids will latch on to anything they can to about another kid and mock them for it. Apparently, “food allergy bullying” is a thing. As in children will actually make fun of and hurt other children because they could die by eating peanuts or whatever.
Peter Rabbit contains a scene of this unique type of bullying, and it’s played for laughs. Peter and another rabbit—ostensibly the heroes of the movie—thwack Mr. McGregor with blueberries, knowing full well that the character is deathly allergic to blueberries. Heck, they pelt him with blueberries because he’s allergic to them. He has to use an EpiPen and he’s fine, but still. That’s kind of messed up.
Peter’s actions pretty much fits the classic definition of bullying, and people are up in arms about how this movie for children seemingly advocates bullying.
How can Sony Pictures release a film where food allergy bullying is acceptable? I guess the film industry won’t understand how wrong this is till they’re covered in hives and struggling to breathe. #boycottpeterrabbit
— Julia B (@PartyVIP101) February 11, 2018
I think everyone needs to let @SonyPictures know that bullying someone with a food they are deathly allergic to is not funny in any way. Real families deal with the fear of this happening to a family member every day. #shame #boycottpeterrabbit #foodallergiesarenotfunny
— Quakes-JD (@JDMcCall1) February 12, 2018
I will be posting more about this tomorrow. I’m enraged. I thought the new peter rabbit movie looked stupid from the previews. Had no idea they were going to mock #foodallergies. We have to move, folks. We have to make our voices heard on this. https://t.co/P71zQb252b
— Food Allergy Arsenal (@allergyarsenal) February 10, 2018
**Warning** For those who have children that live with food allergies (like mine), do NOT go see the new Peter Rabbit movie. Finding “humor” in bullying by Peter & friends to an allergy friend (who then needs an Epi) is sickening. Shame on @SonyPictures #BoycottPeterRabbit
— Tom Murray (@thomascmurray) February 10, 2018
On Peter Rabbit gate: anaphylaxis kills. Kids copy what they see. Foods people are most often allergic to are easily available.l (and easily thrown!) I don’t think this is just a massive sense of humour failure but not was there any malintent on the part of the film makers.
— Dr Christian Jessen (@DoctorChristian) February 12, 2018
This is is Nainika Tikoo. She died from anaphylaxis to blackberries she passed. Blackberries are the food they joke about killing in the movie Peter Rabbit. This film scarily promotes food allergy bullying. 1 in 3 kids with food allergies is bullied for their diagnosis. pic.twitter.com/5lgJlfcxUe
— stephanie labile (@Sweets4EpiGirl) February 11, 2018