NPR for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

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


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


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.


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



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") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.