Actor goes from Polkin' to Tokin'; faces legal trouble for his mascot parody
If you live in Ontario, you probably haven't heard of Marc Scott - but you've probably seen him if you watched children's shows on TVOntario, the province's educational broadcaster (similar to PBS). He used to perform as the costumed character known as "Polkaroo", a polka-dotted kangaroo on the station's preschool TV series Polka-Dot Door from 1985 to 1993, and on later series such as Polka-Dot Shorts (1993-2001) and on Gisèle's Big Backyard (2001-2007).
His name has recently returned to the limelight - in a less than flattering way - after he attracted the attention of his former employer. He's received a cease-and-desist order and might face a potential lawsuit for creating and wearing an "unauthorized parody" of Polkaroo, named "Tokaroo", a red-eyed and brown-furred marijuana-smoking marsupial he created in celebration of Canada legalizing Marijuana on October 17, 2018.
Responding to Scott's parody, TVO issued a statement to the Canadian Press:
"Polkaroo is an established and trusted trademarked TVOkids mascot that is appreciated across generations."
"While we can understand the nostalgia, TVO does not endorse this parody of Polkaroo ... or the fact that it is being associated with an activity that is neither legal for children nor recommended for use by children. We are asking Mark Scott to take appropriate action to stop the use of this character."
Scott claims that his character's appearance is purely coincidental, and that both characters are similar only in that they want to teach young minds to grow. Polkaroo teaches young children by using psychedelic journeys of the imagination, while Tokaroo teaches young adolescents about marijuana and its legal, responsible consumption. The self-taught mascot maker added that when he dresses up as the weed-smoking Tokaroo, parents stop him on the street to pose for photos with their children. He does his best to keep the joint out of the frame.
Excluding a battle in court, Scott dreams of eventually adding more characters. TVO's Polkaroo is a "Candoroo" - a fictional species that combines the words "Canada" and "kangaroo". Scott wants the Candoroo universe to expand and embody "many shapes, sizes and colours," turning the character into an "infinite symbol of representation."
"The idea is to go with the childlike attraction we have with everything," he said. "To get past an issue, we have to talk about it, and evolve into an 'it's OK' position. You know, it's OK to be you."