Home REVIEWS Opinion: Street Characters vs NY & Hollywood Tourists
Opinion: Street Characters vs NY & Hollywood Tourists PDF Print E-mail

Q: When traveling with our kids on Hollywood Boulevard recently, we had to fight our way through aggressive street people dressed as Disney and other cartoon characters. When our kids posed for photos with them, they demanded several dollars each. Is it legal to do this kind of intimidation? How do we deal with them?

A: Those street characters are breaking several laws, including panhandling and illegally wearing copyrighted Disney and other costumes. However, in both very busy tourist locations, it seems the police do nothing more than tolerate them, as long as their aggression doesn’t turn to verbal and/or physical violence.

The official attitude has usually been that they have the right to make a living, as long as they don’t make overt pests of themselves. However, after several recent serious incidents in New York City, legislators there may introduce bills to curb or totally ban the costumed characters from their streets.

Our opinion: Let ‘em be as long as they obey all laws to respect and protect the rights of tourists. As for copyright violations, that’s a decision Disney and other companies must make, whether it’s worthwhile to start civil cases against people who obviously don’t have the financial means to defend their illegal actions. Also, the publicity of the big bad companies going after the poor little guys could be negative. When you pass by one of the characters, you don’t have to contribute. However, if you and/or family members stop to take photos with the character, toss in a couple of bucks.

Incidentally, there was a recent news video of an all-silver-painted New York street performer costumed as a statue of Teddy Roosevelt. He had a cup at his feet for contributions, and most people admired his creation with respect and cash. (Remember Robin Williams in “Night at the Museum”?)

His gig was to stand still as a statue, but an irksome guy kept pushing, pulling and poking him. When the idiot stuck his finger in Teddy’s ear, the statue instantly came to life, hauled off and knocked the tormentor out with a swift right cross. In that case, we side with Teddy.

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