In an effort to further clean up the shiniest five blocks in New York, a city councilman has proposed a rule that would require background checks for all of Times Square's costumed characters. Elmo, Cookie Monster, and Spider-Man are a notoriously smelly, quarellsome bunch, after all.
The bill, proposed by Bronx Democrat Andy King, would also force the mascots to obtain licenses. King told the Wall Street Journal he is "particularly concerned adults are dressing up in kids character costumes and pretty much harassing or even begging for money to take a picture."
Regulating the relatively lawless arena in which the costumed characters operate would also benefit the companies that own their images. From the Journal:
Sesame Workshop, which owns two popular Times Square characters—Elmo and Cookie Monster—also has been involved in talks with the alliance.
"We care about our fans and the image of our brand, and, like everyone else, we care about public safety on our streets," said Myung Kang-Huneke, executive vice president of Sesame Workshop.
Gotta protect the brand. But also the public: the litany of offenses against tourists committed at the hands of family-friendly cartoon characters includes punches to the face, baby-pushing, and yelling about The Jews.
Bill de Blasio's office offered its vague support for the bill, telling WSJ the mayor "looks forward to working with stakeholders on figuring out the best solution."