Tourists visiting Times Square this summer have been privy to a campaign that might mirror an issue of The Amazing Spider-Man. Superheroes, or at least street performers dressing as heroes, have become the subject of a flier campaign urging tourists to contact the police should they come in contact with any pushy caped crusaders.
The heroes have come under scrutiny after a string of arrests involving costumed performers, most of which were the result of the performers becoming irate when they were not tipped after being photographed. One incident included an assault on a New York city police officer by a man dressed as our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
While tipping is optional, the NYPD wants tourists to know that they have their back when heroes go bad. The fliers read ” tipping is optional” in bold letters on a red back ground, and have been printed in five languages in partnership with the Times Square Alliance, which promotes the local area businesses. “If you have any complaints, talk to a police officer or call 911.”
Additional arrests following the flier campaign included Spider-Man, Iron Man and one Elmo, all being charged with ” aggressive panhandling”, but some performers question the priorities of the police and of state officials, including Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Jose Escalona-Martinez, who dons the cape and cowl of the Batman told Reuters reporters that under the U.S Constitution he could wear whatever he wants and in true bat fashion questioned the motivation of local police. “If they want to do that job, passing out fliers, not looking for real crimes, it’s fine with us,” he said.
The New York city council is currently working on rules that would require street performers to become licensed in order to dress in costume in Times Square. The council hopes that this may curtail the more aggressive behavior of some of the characters.
While here in the U.S tipping is an unspoken rule, especially when you consider that many of these performers spend time and money on their costumes, those visiting from other countries may not be aware of the cultural standard. Though Escalona-Martinez may have a point in questioning the value of the time spent by police handing out fliers, it can certainly be agreed upon that getting into an argument over a tip is far from heroic behavior. Perhaps dressing as The Joker might be more fitting.
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Images: Columbia Pictures, Time Square Alliance