The Tale of Peter Rabbit is a classic. As an English Lit major, Beatrix Potter is IT when it comes to children’s authors of the early 1900’s. I love the stories and am infatuated with the pastel illustrations. Stunning works of literary art. Their timelessness has spanned generations and sharing them with my own children was a must.
If you don’t already know our youngest, Bennett, has severe food allergies. The journey to keep him safe day to day has gone from overwhelming, to scary, to nerve racking, to informed, to advocacy. So when the new Peter Rabbit movie came out and I started to read critical accounts from the Food Allergy community regarding the films portrayal of an anaphylactic response, I had to watch for myself before rushing to judgement.
I’m not going to lie, I was nervous to take my kids to see this movie despite my love for the tales. Based on what I had read, I was worried it would give them angst or cause unnecessary panic. We talk about Bennett’s allergies a lot in our house for awareness. Bishop (3) is very aware and is trained to ask “is Benny allergic?” when we have a new food around. He also knows that Benny can only take food from a trusted adult.
Then I decided I’d take them to see it. If anything, it would spark additional dialogue in our home of teeny Benny advocates. So that’s what we did. Friday night, all 5 of us went off to the movies.
Here’s the skinny. Food allergies are talked about in the movie. The antagonist McGregor is the individual with allergies; anaphylactic to blackberries to be exact. In the movie he is offered water with blackberries in it and refuses politely stating his allergy. Later, in an attempt to take over McGregor’s garden the rabbits pull out all kinds of trickery and are their mischievous selves. One scene in particular they shoot a blackberry into McGregor’s mouth causing him to react and use his Epi-Pen, which he responsibly was carrying with him.
The scene is dramatic and animated. Truthfully, I can see why it rubbed some in the Food Allergy community the wrong way, causing highly critical commentary about bullying. I absolutely can see that. What I can’t see? That this is an ordeal that has become so extreme that some are calling for Sony to retract the film and even undergo litigation. What has this world come to? Why isn’t something like this seen as a great conversation starter between parents and children about diversity, inclusion, awareness. After all, it is fictional film written after a fictional tale. Last I checked bunny rabbits are not roaming the earth targeting people with food allergies. They are not. So get real. Talk to your kids. Raise responsible, compassionate individuals. And to that, this food allergy Mom says “Hare flip”!