Children’s Film Criticized for Making Light of Food Allergies

Category: Lifestyle/Entertainment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. deliberately / dɪˈlɪb ər ɪt li / (adv) – intentionally

    The mother scolded her son because he deliberately threw his toys on the floor.

  2. stir up / stɜr ʌp / (phrasal) – to cause something to happen

    The film’s violent scene stirred up negative reactions from the viewers.

  3. boycott / ˈbɔɪ kɒt / (v) – to refuse to participate in an activity

    The parents boycotted the school program.

  4. poke fun at / poʊk fʌn æt / (idiom) – to make jokes about someone or something

    You should not poke fun at persons with disabilities.

  5. comic relief / ˈkɒm ɪk rɪˈlif / (n) – funny content that is used to tone down a serious issue

    The director decided to cast the comedian for the purpose of comic relief.


Read the text below.

The film adaptation of Peter Rabbit received backlash because of a controversial scene.

The Sony-produced film, which is based on the popular children’s book series by English author Beatrix Potter, follows the adventures of the rabbit protagonist, Peter. In the film, a certain scene showed Peter and his friends attacking the story’s villain, Tom McGregor, by deliberately shooting a blackberry into his mouth. This action triggered an allergic reaction from McGregor, who choked and collapsed.

The scene stirred up controversy after some parents pointed out that it supports bullying. These parents also accused the film of disrespecting those suffering from food allergies.

This controversy prompted several groups to boycott the film.

Kids with Food Allergies Foundation (KFA)—an online community that supports children with food allergies—posted a warning about the movie on its Facebook page. The post became viral and prompted the hashtag #boycottpeterrabbit on social media.

The post was followed by an open letter from Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America CEO Kenneth Mendez. He stated that filmmakers should not poke fun at food allergies because they can be fatal. He also fears that downplaying this issue might result in actions that can put those with food allergies at risk.

Mendez also cited Smurfs 2 and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs—two other Sony films that used food allergies for comic relief. These movies also received criticism from the audience because of false representations of peanut allergies.

In response, Sony Pictures issued a public apology by acknowledging that food allergies are a grave concern. The production company also expressed regret for its carelessness and insensitivity toward the issue.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• In your opinion, was it necessary for the filmmakers to apologize for the controversial scene? Why or why not?
• Do you think this controversy will make filmmakers more sensitive when creating film content?

Discussion B

• What issue would you like to be tackled in a children’s movie? Why?
• How would you like this issue to be tackled?