Before 12 May, when Tonight With Trevor McDonald broadcast its 10pm special “Mugging for Kicks”, a Google search for “happy slaps” reportedly produced 542 hits. It now returns 23,700.
“Mugging for Kicks” was an investigation launched by the programme, in its element when documenting food scares, health scares and society scares, about the latest trend amongst Britain’s teenagers. “Happy slapping” is an episode where a group of young people film each other with video phones slapping or kicking members of the public or each other. These video recordings are then sent to their friends and posted on the internet.
Or are they? The vast majority of internet searches on happy slapping produce forums of users denouncing happy slapping and newspapers discussing the Tonight show. It took this experienced Googler quite some exertion to locate these fabled videos. And then the site asked me to register to download them! Hardly a spiral of copy-cat hooliganism.
The most, and often only, quoted “expert” is Graham Barnfield who appeared on Tonight’s show, but here he bemoans this unmerited and unwanted title. It appears that a few casual remarks have been repeated countless times in the world’s media, spawning a mass happy slapping moral panic.
Nice one Trevor!