Proposed NYC “Costume Ban” May Affect Fans

The horror. The HORROR.


Faced with a rising tide of anti-semitic Elmos, drug-using grope-happy Marios, and mangy-looking, unkempt Cookie Monsters, New York City Councilman Peter F. Vallone, Jr. has reportedly introduced legislation in two separate bills, aimed at those who choose to dress up in terrible, nightmare-inducing knock-off costumes in order to beg for money in Times Square.

If this were all, we could collectively give Councilman Vallone a hearty standing ovation and go back to our lives. No one enjoys being accosted for money by a guy in a homemade, duct-taped Spider-Man outfit, reeking of Jack Daniels.

But Vallone’s legislation doesn’t appear to limit its reach to these sketchy denizens of NYC. As reported in several news outlets, Vallone’s legislation may be significantly broader than that:

One [of Vallone’s two bills] would require anyone appearing as a costumed character to register the character and provide a permission slip proving that the character has been licensed. The other bill would go further to ban costumed characters outright.

If true, this is a problem. It’s a problem on at least two distinct levels. Assuming that Vallone’s bill doesn’t focus solely on people who dress up in order to solicit money, (1) Comic fans who enjoy “cosplaying” could very well be implicated under the legislation, making it harder or impossible to attend NY Comic Con and other conventions in homemade costumes; and (2) Halloween would effectively be cancelled in NYC, since a good half of the costumes that people wear are homemade, not store-bought, and are typically costumes of copyrighted characters.

Realistically, it’s difficult to say how police could possibly be expected to fine EVERYBODY on Halloween night, or to enforce such a restriction/ban at a large-scale event like Comic Con. It’s possible that any such proposed legislation might affect NY Comic Con at the corporate, planning level, such that the Con would required to issue new and more stringent rules for what is and isn’t allowed to be worn by attendees. This would be extremely unpopular, to put it politely.

The optimist in me wants to believe that Vallone’s legislation is intended to combat a serious annoyance for NYers who regularly frequent Times Square (seriously – these “performers are creepy and terrible). The cynic in me wants to believe that Vallone is motivated here by a desire to please corporate masters, and is looking to mandate the buying of “official” costumes when, frankly, a lot of the homemade stuff that cosplayers come up with is AMAZING.

Of course, these sorts of open-ended questions about the proposed legislation’s applicability could be cleared up by searching for the text of the bills and reading them to see what they actually say. Unfortunately, neither bill appears to have been posted to the NYC Council’s website. Feel free to give it a go and see whether you can locate anything. I couldn’t**.


**If you do manage to find the text of the bills, shoot me an email at and let me know. I’ll rain appropriate hossanas down upon you.

MMorse is a comforting fiction. Visit him on Twitter @M_Morse

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