It’s no laughing matter

There has been a bit of an uproar over a scene in the new Peter Rabbit film where the hero bunny rabbits throw blackberries at the naughty Mr McGregor who has blackerry anaphalaxis and subsequently has a reaction and needs to use an epi-pen.

I imagine this scene is in the film to raise a giggle. But its far from funny. It seems nobody along the production line thought it might not be the best idea to show a scene in which a person’s life threatening condition is exploited to try and raise a smile.

Some people don’t think it’s a big deal. That anyone complaining is just being soft. That it is only a film and they should get over it.

However it is a big deal. It is a life threatening condition and in ‘real’ life people still don’t seem to appreciate how serious it can be.  Flo, our eldest, has dairy and egg anaphalaxis.  The sheer amount of times we have eaten out and people have taken a slack and relaxed approach is ridiculous. Take the Pizza Express waiter slyly removing butter from her plate when we complained and sending it back as if it was a new plate, completely ignorant to the risk of cross contamination. It’s not something to be slack about. People die from anaphylactic reactions. Deaths that can 100% be avoided. People end up suffering life changing injuries as a result of anaphylactic reactions. Again these can be avoided.

So people may get so pissed off when this is exploited for comic value because its far from a funny experience and in fact a major cause of stress, anxiety and fear. Fear for the person with the anaphylaxis but also fear on the part of the parents or loved one of the person with anaphylaxis.  People who watch the film may take the view point that it is not such a big deal. That symptoms can be easily alleviated by sticking an epi-pen in the top of the thigh. The reality is far from different. For one upto 5% of people who have an anaphylactic reaction die. That is 1 in 20 people who have a reaction do not survive. Even after administering the adrenaline people have been known to die or suffer life changing injuries.  Therefore it is now recommended that people with anaphylaxis carry two epi-pens. Another little problem is that people with anaphylaxis quite commonly have asthma. This adds to the seriousness. Administering adrenaline when someone is having an asthma attack and not a anaphylactic reaction is very dangerous even life threatening but the symptoms that present can make it difficult to distinguish what is the cause. Also 78% of people who died following an anaphylactic reaction also had asthma which suggests the links and severity is exceedingly high.


People have died because others have thought it was funny to play a prank by poisoning their food with a known allergan. Many cases like this involve children. Children not taking it seriously because they do not appreciate how serious it is. So what happens when children see this film and see that scene? That it is ok to use an allergy to some sort of advantage or prank because worse case the person can pop a needle in their leg and be fine. Far from it. Also change the rabbits for kids and Mr McGregor for a child and it takes a different picture. I stick my child in a similar situation daily in my head because I fear this may happen to her one day. For instance that a silly little Halloween prank with an egg may have really serious consequences.

I also think it raises the issue about how society is generally ignorant to how difficult managing allergies can be. Take for instance the time we stayed at a hotel and each morning we had to provide our own bread because despite us telling them before and during our stay that we had allergies they couldn’t provide bread. Or how about the cinema who don’t stock butterfree popcorn in any capacity in their theatres. I appreciate that it is difficult but often people with allergies suffer being isolated or marginalised through no fault of their own. Imagine how hard that can feel for a child.

Despite a parents best efforts the child is going to feel anxious at times, feel left out, feel different. Hopefully the parents, family and wider social networks can help mediate this. Ignorance like this scene only aid to downplay the seriousness of the issue and the outpouring of ‘people are just getting soft’ or ‘it is the snowflake generation’ show how society has someway to go.

So to some up. Sony dropped a bollock. I won’t be watching the film. But I hope in some round about way this whole issue has raised more awareness for the good about how anaphylaxis is not a joke.

This is Flo at six months old after two epi-pens, Piriton, steroids and being on a nebuliser. Not such a funny outcome.