Things are stranger than ever, it seems, in Times Square.
Philip Williams, 35, is one of many individuals who makes a living of sorts in Manhattan’s famed pop-culture and commerce jungle by dressing up as a colorful character to amuse tourists. In Williams’ case, it’s Spiderman. He is currently charged with assault and harassment for punching a woman who asked him to pose for a photo with her kids, then after getting her picture, refused to pay him the customary tip when he asked for some money.
“Sorry, I don’t have any,” said she. “You’re crap!” said Spidey, and socked her. Williams claimed in court that his punch was in self-defense, because, he claims, the woman threw a snowball at him. This is disputed.
Williams’ arrest came when police intervened to stop the assaulted woman’s husband from squishing Spiderman, which he was endeavoring to do with a packpack. Initially, the woman had fingered another Times Square Spiderman as her assailant, but the husband was paying better attention, and knew which one to pound on.
I love this city!
I have some brief observations, with the Applebee’s incident in the rear view mirror. Unlike refusing to tip a restaurant server or to remit the entire “mandatory tip” amount, not tipping a costumed wacko in Times Square who poses for a photo at your request is theft. Posing for photos is a service rendered, and compensation for the task is obligatory. The woman asked for the photo with her kids knowing she couldn’t pay for it: that’s dishonest, and unfair. Spidey was right, if not as civil as a super-hero should be. She is crap.
What can Spiderman do about it? Not much. He can call the police, but he’d be laughed at. He can scream obscenities, but that is both futile and disturbs the happy environment for innocent New Yorkers and tourists. He can pound her—in fact he did— but that’s illegal, and pure vengeance. There isn’t much he can do at all. In this case, if Spidey got a good cell phone photo of the woman and posted it on Reddit noting that she was a cheap welcher, I would have no ethical objections. The Times Square Spiderman franchise is his own. He was the one stiffed unfairly, and he has good reason to alert the other unsuspecting Spidermen out there that this woman is looking to steal their celebrity for a cheap photo-op.
Now, if unemployed Applebee’s waitress Chelsea Welch was the other, unjustly accused Spiderman, and so incensed over this example of Time Square Spiderman abuse that she decided to handle the web-shaming of the shameless tourist, that would be perfectly ethical, unlike the conduct that got her de-Applebeed. (Unless she is a member of some Spiderman impersonator association or something that specifically prohibits customer shaming as bad for business…I don’t want to think about it.) In contrast to her ill-fated waitressing experience, she would be acting as a free agent, and protecting all of the potential Spiderman victims of this woman’s photo scam by giving them fair warning.
Facts: NY Post
Source and Graphic: Daily Mail