Richard Dawkins first coined the term ‘meme’ in his 1976 book on evolution, The Selfish Gene. Originally the term referred to ideas or behaviours that propagate within a culture analogous with how genes spread within a gene pool.
The term though, has been hijacked in recent years, settling into a new life referring to ‘internet memes’ - cultural touchstones that spread rapidly across the web. Now, in a video created for Saatchi & Saatchi in Cannes, Dawkins has attempted to become a meme himself – or, at least, has had an attempt at memedom thrust upon him.
Described as a “showcase theatrical piece” the nine-minute video begins with a short lecture by Dawkins on natural selection:
“The world is divided into things that look designed like birds and airliners, and things that don’t – rocks and mountains. Things that look designed are further divided into those that really are designed – submarines and tin-openers - and those that aren’t designed but look that way because they result from Darwinian natural selection – sharks and hedgehogs.”
Dawkins continues to outline the concept of memes, describing them as “anything that spreads by imitation”. At this point the video changes into an auto-tuned number complete with psychedelic visuals created by a group of artists, designers and animators known as Marshmallow Laser Feast.