Logo

Blog

Advocacy: Letter to Sony regarding Peter Rabbit movie

Please see our letter to Sony Pictures Entertainment below regarding the portrayal of food allergy in the movie Peter Rabbit. We are calling on Sony to take the lead in driving positive change around food allergy awareness and education in the film industry.


February 23, 2018

Tony Vinciquerra
Chairman and CEO
Sony Pictures Entertainment
10202 West Washington Boulevard
Culver City, California 90232

Dear Mr. Vinciquerra,

On behalf of Food Allergy Canada and the community that we serve, I am writing to express our deep concern and disappointment with the portrayal of food allergy in the film Peter Rabbit. Canadians with food allergies, specifically parents of children living food allergies, are justifiably upset by any inappropriate or demeaning depiction of food allergy. These parents are acutely aware that, sadly, food allergy bullying is a reality for some children at risk.

While we appreciate Sony’s acknowledgement that the scenes in question are very insensitive to children and families affected by food allergy, an apology is an insufficient response. Dialogue with the entertainment industry on how food allergy is depicted in film, television, and society in general and its very real impact on the lives of those living with food allergies is a starting point. Additionally, the industry has a responsibility to depict food allergy in a respectful manner and should play a role in helping to increase awareness and education of food allergies. We would like Sony to take the lead in driving this change. 

Food Allergy Canada is the national advocacy and education organization for the over 2.6 million Canadians living with a potentially life-threatening food allergy, including more than 485,000 children.  As a growing public health concern, it is important to create a broader understanding of the seriousness and unpredictability of food allergies. Given that there is no known cure for food allergies, avoidance is the only sure means to stay safe.

Like other Canadian families, those with food allergy enjoy Sony’s television shows, movies, and other entertainment productions. Ensuring the respectful portrayal of food allergy is a pertinent issue. While we have respect for the creative process and understand that people can distinguish between entertainment and real life, this latest incident is part of a growing trend of how food allergy is portrayed in a negative light. Recent research suggests there is a link between how food allergy is treated in film and television and the impact it has on public attitudes and support. In fact, a 2016 study from the journal Health Communications, “Using Health Conditions for Laughs and Health Policy Support: The Case of Food Allergies”, concluded the following: “Findings support the hypothesis that portraying a health condition in a humorous context may reduce perceptions of seriousness and willingness to support public health policies to address risks associated with the condition.”

Our goal with this letter is to broaden the understanding of food allergy within the entertainment industry, and to explore opportunities to collaborate on awareness and anti-bullying campaigns in support of children and teens living with food allergy. Together with other patient advocacy groups around the globe, we call on Sony to help make a difference by creating positive change.

We would appreciate an opportunity to meet with representatives of your company to discuss these issues in more detail. With food allergy portrayal in movies front and centre in the media and public discourse right now, and with National Food Allergy Awareness Month beginning in May, this is an ideal time to continue this important dialogue. We will follow up shortly to schedule a meeting.

In the interim, if you have any questions or would like to speak directly, you can reach me via the coordinates below.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Gerdts, Executive Director
Food Allergy Canada
1 866 785-5660

 

cc:
Robert Lawson
Executive Vice President & Chief Communications Officer
Sony Pictures Entertainment
10202 West Washington Boulevard
Culver City, California 90232

President
Sony of Canada Ltd.
Head Office
115 Gordon Baker Road
Toronto, Ontario M2H 3R6

Charles H. Rivkin
Chairman & Chief Executive Officer
The Motion Picture Association – Canada
55 St. Clair Avenue West, Suite 210
Toronto ON M4V 2Y7

Kristine Belson
President
Sony Pictures Animation
9050 W. Washington Blvd.,
Culver City, California, 90232

Tahra Grant
Senior Vice President
Sony Pictures Entertainment
10202 West Washington Boulevard
Culver City, CA 90232
United States