Sony Apologizes For Making Fun Of Food Allergy In 'Peter Rabbit' Sony's new film, Peter Rabbit, is being criticized for a scene in which a character is pelted with blackberries, to which he's allergic. Allergy advocacy groups criticized the scene and Sony has responded with an apology.
NPR logo

Sony Apologizes For Making Fun Of Food Allergy In 'Peter Rabbit'

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/585177708/585177709" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Sony Apologizes For Making Fun Of Food Allergy In 'Peter Rabbit'

Sony Apologizes For Making Fun Of Food Allergy In 'Peter Rabbit'

Sony Apologizes For Making Fun Of Food Allergy In 'Peter Rabbit'

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/585177708/585177709" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Sony's new film, Peter Rabbit, is being criticized for a scene in which a character is pelted with blackberries, to which he's allergic. Allergy advocacy groups criticized the scene and Sony has responded with an apology.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Sony Pictures is being criticized for a movie that didn't seem all that controversial - "Peter Rabbit." It came out this weekend.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "PETER RABBIT")

SAM NEILL: (As Tommy Brock) Blue jacket, no pants - you must be Peter Rabbit.

JAMES CORDEN: (As Peter Rabbit) Yeah, that's right.

KELLY: This update of the classic short stories by Beatrix Potter pits a group of rabbits led by the eponymous Peter against their nemesis, Mr. McGregor. High jinks ensue mostly at McGregor's expense.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "PETER RABBIT")

CORDEN: (As Peter Rabbit) His face was so classic. He was like gluh, gluh, gluh, gluh, gluh (ph).

(LAUGHTER)

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Sounds pretty normal for a slapsticky kids movie. But in this version, Mr. McGregor is allergic to blackberries. In one scene, the rabbits pelt him with the fruit. One gets into his mouth, and he's forced to use his EpiPen.

KENNY MENDEZ: Some of the families who've gone to see this movie who have kids with food allergies have left being very upset.

SHAPIRO: That's Kenny Mendez. He's CEO of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

KELLY: He also has two grown children with food allergies, and he says watching this movie brought back some bad memories.

MENDEZ: The fear and the trepidation you have when your kid is young - they're going on a play date, or they are in school. And as a parent, you know, if you're enrolling in a preschool and the preschool basically says, well, you know, we can't accommodate your son; you should really think about switching preschools, that doesn't feel good.

SHAPIRO: And there's more. A survey by the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York found that about a quarter of children with food allergies are bullied, teased or harassed, sometimes using the food as a weapon. In some cases, that led to hospitalization or death.

KELLY: With all of that in mind, Kenny Mendez wrote an open letter to Sony, and Sony apologized, writing, quote, "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 sincerely apologize."

SHAPIRO: Kenny Mendez says that statement is a good first step.

MENDEZ: And it's appreciated. But we need a broader dialogue. That movie's still going to be out there. The scenes are still in the movie. And it's still going to have an impact on people who watch it.

SHAPIRO: So he's reached out to Sony with hopes of continuing the conversation.

(SOUNDBITE OF MATISYAHU SONG, "LOVE BORN")

Copyright © 2018 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.