It’s hard to imagine fucking up a film adaptation of Peter Rabbit. Surely, anything short of exhuming Beatrix Potter’s body for an accurate CGI motion capture sequence should put you in good stead.

Regardless, Sony Pictures has actually been forced to apologise for a scene in their new animated feature, in which the eponymous pest belts a pesky garden-owner with blackberries.

Spoiler alert: Mr. McGregor, portrayed by Domhnall Gleeson, is deathly allergic to blackberries. The film shows him going into anaphylactic shock, collapsing, and struggling to deploy his life-saving EpiPen.

That scene has been criticised by some members of the viewing public, who believe it could encourage the bullying of kids with life-threatening food allergies.

In a Change.org petition aimed at spurring an apology from Sony Pictures, the Australian-based Global Anaphylaxis Awareness And Inclusivity (GlobalAAI) said “to spread a message that condones such victimising and dangerous behaviour amongst children is grossly offensive to worldwide viewers especially those who live with severe allergic disease.”

In a new statement, the studio said “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.”

The cinematic powerhouse and Peter Rabbit’s filmmakers added “We sincerely regret not being more aware and sensitive to this issue, and we truly apologize.”

It’s unclear if Sony Pictures’ response was a direct result of the GlobalAAI petition, which currently sports around 11,000 signatures.

Food allergies are thought to impact one in twenty children in Australia, and hospital admissions for those suffering anaphylaxis have doubled in the past decade. 

Funnily enough, a quick look at the James Corden-led trailer should be enough to tell you that the furry little arsehole would have been the villain even if he didn’t bombard some bloke with life-threatening berries.

The film is currently showing in Aussie cinemas.

Source: The New York Times