Monday, September 28, 2009

Cloudy With a Chance of Food Allergies

My husband took my son to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs yesterday. I’d heard there was a scene in it where someone has an allergic reaction to peanuts. I didn’t tell my son about it – I wanted to see his reaction when he got home. In fact, what I really wanted him to do was write about it for my blog today.

The interesting thing is, he was able to describe the scene to me just fine, but when I asked him what he thought about it, he shrugged. “I don’t have any feelings about it at all. It was just a scene in a movie, Mom.”

“But did you think it was kind of neat to see food allergies show up in a movie, or did they make it too silly?”

“Mom, I told you. It was just a scene. I didn’t laugh, I didn’t cry, I didn’t go Arggg!”

Hmmm. “But do you ever see characters with food allergies in any of the cartoons or movies you see on TV?”

“I wouldn’t say it was normal. They don’t usually say that people have allergies in a movie or show. It was just a scene in a movie; I didn’t think much of it.”

I’ve been reading a few comments online about this scene, and it’s mixed. For the most part, parents of food allergic children are annoyed or downright horrified that 1) the reaction is depicted as comical, 2) the smart allergic heroine carries a Doppler radar thingy but not an EpiPen, and 3) it’s unrealistic, yet still scary for little ones with reactions, and 4) it makes light of the whole thing. On the other hand, there’s that old saw about “any publicity is good publicity,” so some parents are saying it’s good to see that food allergies are common enough that they can be used as a major plot point (I brought this up a while back in a posting about allergies in the movie The Game Plan) or even as a throw-away piece of dialogue (like in an episode of the TV show Reaper). Only a few are saying it’s no big deal either way. I guess my son is one of those.

He’s ten, of course, so maybe older kids are simply able to recognize that it’s silly, unrealistic, and as absurd as the entire rest of the movie, and therefore not to be taken seriously. I would be willing to bet that kids his age are probably better equipped to let things like this roll off their backs than we parents are. We parents take everything seriously when it comes to our children.

So if you’ve seen the movie, what did you think of it? And more importantly, what did your food-allergic child think about it? Did it help, hurt, or was it “just a scene in a movie”?

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