BBC London News reported this afternoon on a new craze amongst London youths: slapping random commuters in the face and filming the result on mobile phones with video cameras. The resulting 'Happy Slap TV' clips are then shared amongst friends (via MMS?), causing much hilarity.
A psychologist on the programme put some of the blame on the BBC itself, saying that shows like Dom Jolly's 'Trigger Happy TV' had inspired these copy-cat clips. He also said that it was part of a general trend whereby people weren't content to simply consume the media and instead want to be part of it, creating and sharing content.
Brave words indeed, and I can see that the idea has an element of truth in it. In some ways, blogs and moblogs are an adult extension of the same idea, and the idea of creating and sharing video content is one which is being encouraged by everyone from creatives to the mobile phone companies.
So, put this technology into the hands of youngsters, and there's bound to be some who use it offensively. Whilst the 'happy slap tv' clips in some ways show imagination and initiative, it's also clearly assault and 'slapstick' taken a bit too literally...
Update: I'm closing comments for a while now as there are more than enough comments to give a picture of the view of 'the kids in the playground'. Genuinely new and insighful comments are still welcomed - either e-mail me or send a trackback ping.
Followup post: 'Happy Slapping Again', following Guardian report.