Video: Richard Dawkins attempts memedom via Saatchi & Saatchi

Evolutionary biologist stars in the advertiser's New Directors Showcase in Canne

James Vincent
Wednesday 26 June 2013 13:49 BST
Richard Dawkins stars in Saatchi and Saatchi's director showcase at Cannes
Richard Dawkins stars in Saatchi and Saatchi's director showcase at Cannes

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.

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