Nothing makes me more cross than publicity that seems to make people with a legitimate medical condition look like a bunch of fuss pots. I’ve been reading lots of newspaper articles, opinions of well respected allergy bloggers and kept really quiet. I normally don’t want to put my head above the parapet. I’m just baffled how the writers of the Peter Rabbit film could choose to upset parents who may have fought for a diagnosis, fought to keep their children safe and will continue to fight to make life easier when you live with allergies.
You’ve probably heard the story, the new Peter Rabbit film has a very controversial plot. One of the ‘baddies’ has an allergy to blackberries so the Rabbits cause an allergic reaction. This is a deeply unpleasant thing to do. Bullying is never ok, putting such an idea in the heads of impressionable children is not great. The heroes of the film are carrying out a deliberately dangerous act.
A national newspaper has labelled parents of children with a food allergy who are disappointed at best by this plot as snowflakes. My understanding of this term is we expect the world to accommodate our fragile and oversensitive state of being. I’m really struggling to see a fuss is being made about nothing.
However, if you re-read your childhood Beatrix Potter books the story lines are terrifying. I was nearly in tears re-reading The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck! Following a few days of thought I’ve decided to take Felix and his little brother to see the Peter Rabbit film. Why? This is my rationale:
- We talk at school and home about how bullying is wrong. I want to have a conversation to describe this part of the film as bullying and what to do if it happens to Felix in real life.
- Being allergic to a number of foods has been a big part of Felix’s life and he finds it intriguing when it’s explored in popular culture.
- We carry 2 adrenaline auto injectors everywhere we go. I want Felix to remember why this is the case.
- I’ve watched the trailer and the film is FULL of the slapstick fun Felix loved when he saw Home Alone at Christmas. Mr McGregor’s Nephew (for he is the one with the blackberry allergy) is a proper baddie. Those Rabbits are going to get up to so much mischief that I would go bananas if Felix emulated around the home!
Yesterday I watched the trailer, with Felix standing over my shoulder, and he was roaring with laughter. I think he would enjoy it despite the allergy scene. We’ve talked about the storyline and he shrugged saying that is not very nice but he wants to see it at the cinema.
Should I be offended by the film? No, offence is a very personal thing. But I do ask every parent who takes their child to see this film has a chat about what the rabbits have done. Explain if this happened outside of the film it is bullying and dangerous. Just the same as we talk about about how Mummy isn’t going anywhere after watching Bambi and the booby traps in Home Alone are too dangerous to recreate at home on little brothers.
I’ve been really interested in lots of online allergy forums and opinions are as wide and varied as you’d expect! I would prefer if this idea of food allergy bullying hadn’t been explored in the film. But, it will give us a new conversation to have around using an auto injector and people messing around with food. Let us hope no child gets any bad ideas from Peter and his friends.
As Felix grows up I’m terrified despite being a very pragmatic person. Trusted adults, caring teachers, professional childminders and vigilant school cooks (although you could swap any of those adjectives for these wonderful people) have great control over Felix’s health and keeping him safe. As he grows up I am going to rely on a potentially grumpy teenager and his friends to do this job. The thought terrifies me, especially given a child died from their allergies last year. The circumstances were initially reported as a case of food allergy bullying but we’ll find out more following the inquest.
I’d be really interested to hear your opinion. If you are upset, offended or feel the plot is in exceptionally poor taste I’ll totally understand. Just don’t call me a snowflake, it’s a nice word for a nasty insult. I expect reasonable steps to be made to keep my son safe – if I didn’t the same newspaper would have another insult for my ability as a Mother! The whole thing is more subtle. We’ll watch the film and make up our mind after we’ve seen it. I’m not going to call for a ban but if the film is a flop the box office takings will speak for themselves.