The filmmakers of Peter Rabbit have apologised over a controversial scene in the new movie, which some viewers have claimed make light of the severity of food allergies.
In the scene, the character of Tom McGregor is attacked with fruit and vegetables by a group of animals.
Despite being aware of his allergy to blackberries, the animals sling-shot a blackberry into his mouth, causing Mr McGregor to struggle with an EpiPen and suffer anaphylaxis, as the animals cheer on.
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The apology from Sony has come in response to various petitions and letters from allergy awareness groups all over the world.
An Australian allergy awareness group, Global Anaphylaxis Awareness and Inclusivity (Globalaai), was so outraged they started a petition calling for an official apology from the filmmakers.
In the US, Pennsylvania’s Kids With Food Allergies Foundation, a division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America posted a warning about the scene which went viral on social media.
An open letter, penned by the president and chief executive of the foundation, Kenneth Mendez, reads;
“This isn’t the first time that Sony Pictures Animation has used food allergies as a punchline in the plot of a kids’ movie,” the letter explains, citing “The Smurfs” and “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” as examples.
“The segment makes light of the seriousness of food allergies and suggests that food allergies are “made up for attention”.
Sony Pictures responded to the feedback with a formal apology.
“Food allergies are a serious issue. Our film should not have made light of Peter Rabbit’s arch-nemesis, Mr. McGregor, being allergic to blackberries, even in a cartoonish, slapstick way,” the apology read.
“We sincerely regret not being more aware and sensitive to this issue, and we truly apologise.”