Thursday, August 1, 2013

Disappointed Smurf

Credit: Silver Arena

I had the unfortunate extremely lucky chance to take the kids to see Smurfs 2 today at the local theater.  Watching anything involving the Smurfs is rarely a cinematic pleasure, but this movie annoyed me more than the typical Smurfiness would.  Speaking of being annoyed, why on Earth would the Smurfs make a comeback?  There are better things that could be resurrected from the 80's like Swatch watches or tight-rolled jeans or Jem and the Holograms.

The movie is pretty silly and harmless overall, but there is one scene in particular that really got to me.

In the scene, the main human characters are having a birthday party for their son, Blue.  (BLUE?  Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays loved the Smurfs so much in the first movie that they named their son 'BLUE'?  I mean.)

Anyway, it's Blue's birthday, and we see the presentation of the cake.  NPH makes sure the parents all know that the cake is vegan, gluten-free, organic, BPA free, and that the baker had never touched a peanut, much to the obvious joy of the parents of a child with a peanut allergy.  Later in the scene, the child who is allergic takes a bite of a corn dog fried in peanut oil given to him by someone who doesn't know about his allergy.  Watching the parents' horrified response to their son's (unseen) allergic reaction was hard to watch, especially because I have a son with a food allergy.  There isn't a direct or obvious joke about the kid with the allergy, though.  Somehow, the Smurfs managed to be a little more subtle than one would expect.  Instead of mocking the allergy itself or the kid, the movie mocks the grown-ups.

What I really hate is the way parents of food allergic kids are being portrayed in this load of crap, bunch of bunk movie.  The mom and dad come off as smug, overreacting freaks who are making up their child's allergy for attention or novelty.  The truth is this: parents of children with food allergies HAVE to be proactive for their children because many, many people still believe that food allergies are silly or made up or simply not that bad.  To those people, I say zip it.  If you're living with it, you have NO idea what it's like.   I'm not whining or complaining, but the fact is that I have to advocate for my child because no one else is going to do it.  And why should they?  Dallas is my son, and I do what any parent does for his or her child: I keep him safe.  It doesn't make me smug or sanctimonious or hysterical: it makes me a mom.

When Lottie was in preschool in Lexington, we met A, a girl in her class.  I was lucky enough to become friends with A's mom, E.  A is allergic to peanuts, as well as other foods, and E is a wonderfully proactive, caring mom.  Even with all of the precautions E has taken, A ended up in the ER due to anaphylaxis from peanuts.  I cannot imagine how E must have felt watching her daughter struggle to breathe, and I can't imagine how frightened A must have been.   This past Saturday, a 13-year-old girl named Natalie Giorgi died after taking ONE bite of a Rice Krispie treat.  Natalie didn't know that the dessert contained peanut butter. As soon as she tasted the peanut butter, she spit it out, but it was too late.  Her mother gave her Benadryl, but twenty minutes later, Natalie went into anaphylactic shock.  Her  physician father administered three EpiPens in an attempt to help her, but she stopped breathing.  Natalie died due to laryngeal edema which is a fancy way of saying that her throat swelled shut and prevented her from breathing.

Natalie isn't the only person who has died from an allergic reaction this year, and horribly, she won't be the last unless people start realizing that food allergies are genuine and on the rise.  I don't expect people to cater to my kid, but I do expect people to be honest about food ingredients and preparation.  (And, really, shouldn't we ALL want that, food allergies or not?)

Credit: FARE

I'm disappointed that Sony chose to keep a scene in the movie that teeters on the edge of mocking kids with food allergies and jumps all the way off the cliff mocking the parents of those children.  We're all just doing the best we can, you know?

( Before you shake your heads and wonder why I'm writing about the food allergy issue yet again, go back and re-read the part about Natalie Giorgi.  Then go to the Food Allergy Research and Education page for more eye-opening information about food allergies.)


  1. I think the scene showed how careful the family was to make sure that the environment was clear of any potential harm, and then the step-dad came in clueless and fed all the children the corndog fried in peanut oil. I don’t think they were making fun of the allergy. I think they were making fun at the idiotic step-dad. And BTW, Neil Patrick Harris's character has a phone call with the parents after and clearly states that the parents were ok with what happened and that they didn't over react, so had did they come off as smug or over reacting? My brother is not only a pediatrician, but his daughter (my niece) has a sever peanut allergy. My brother sent me one of the articles written about this movie this morning and he was not disappointed, ashamed or anything else with Sony. We happen to know the little boy who played the ‘peanut kid” and my brother was laughing at the over the top reaction. We need to sit back and ask ourselves if Sony Pictures really wanted to offend the world by using this as a platform? I really doubt it! we have so many other huge issues in our crumbling society that we should be focusing on, while at the same time as taking care of our children with each of their individual needs as best we can.

    1. Actually, when NPH talks to the parents on the phone after the reaction, there is no indication whatsoever that they were "ok" with what happened. He says, "They said he started breathing. That makes two of us: both of his parents are lawyers." Whomever is speaking to NPH on the phone hangs up on him as he is apologizing, so to me, that doesn't indicate being "ok" with any of it. Your brother can be a pediatrician or a traffic cop: if he wasn't offended, that's great. But *I* was, and my son asked me about twelve times if the kid was okay. Do I think Sony purposely put the scene in the film to offend? Of course not. However, it IS offensive to me and many other parents of children with food allergies, and since it's my blog, I can write about it. Thanks for the comment, though! Next time, feel free to post your name so we can have an actual discussion. :)

  2. My Name is Stephen, and I agree...your blog, you can write what ever you want. you can also have any opinion you want. you can agree with me, you can disagree and you can choose to respond to bits and pieces or all of my comment. Either way I take no offense. The movie clearly shows NPH stating that there are no peanuts, no dairy, no gluten...and even goes as far to say the plates are PBA free. They are "saying" that they are aware of the issues but that the older generation (the stepdad) is unaware.
    I have taken care of my niece many times, and each time I have been nervous about the food around my house when she is present, so I totally understand your concerns with your children. I don't think the parents in the movie were made to look stupid. I think its the opposite. I think, like you and my bother and myself (when my niece is around) they were concerned like any parent with a peanut allergy in the family would be. And I think the scene can be a learning experience for what NOT to do. Thanks for letting me respond K.C

  3. Thank you, Stephen! I honestly do appreciate your comments, and although my view of the scene is different than yours, I'm glad we can agree to disagree in a mature way. And your niece is lucky to have so many people watching out for her allergies. :)

  4. Well, that was a wonderful response! Thank you K.C.
    It IS really nice when two people who disagree can be so mature.
    Just to let you know...the little boy who played the peanut VERY VERY VERY close to me. He too is very careful when his cousin is around not to go near peanuts.

  5. I was offended, as a mom with a child who has a peanut allergy and celiac disease so cannot have gluten. NPH is so clearly making fun of parents in this scene, I am still annoyed 3 days later. How are we going to encourage our children to advocate for themselves if they think people are even rolling their eyes at their parents.