Plant Photography: The birth of a meme

Libby Purves’ comments will become a new cultural cliche

It is rare that one is present at the exact moment when a new cultural meme is born. Okay, so I was not actually present in the studio when Joan Rivers called Darcus Howe a “son of a bitch”, but I was listening to it live. In fact, I was lying in a state of semi-consciousness and River’s shouting aroused me from slumber.

The presenter, Libby Purves, did well to let the argument run its course, and allow Joan Rivers to refute Darcus Howe’s allegation that she was offended by the word “black”. However, she was eventually obliged to give other interviewees space to promote their projects. She turned to photographer Andrea Jones and said:

Andrea, shall we talk about plant photography?

This simply could not have been scripted better. The new subject was the perfect antidote to a heated debate about racism, true ‘flower-power’ in action.

Other people clearly feel the same. Just as “Weapons of Mass Destruction” has now become an easy short-hand for some figment of the imagination, an impossibly acrimonius debate (or more specifically, its forced conclusion) has already been labelled ‘plant photography’. Several examples of this new turn-of-phrase have already appeared in abundance. The blogosphere will certainly entrench it in the coming weeks – I wonder if it will catch on stateside?

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