Ariana DeBose’s rap about Angela Bassett did the thing at the BAFTAs

The 76th British Academy of Film and Television Arts’ (BAFTA) Film Awards were held on Sunday, celebrating films such as All Quiet on the Western Front, The Banshees of Inisherin, and Elvis. It also featured actor Ariana DeBose performing a rap.

Dancing through the aisles, DeBose sang an original song featuring the names of several female BAFTA nominees, including Viola Davis, Cate Blanchett, and Jamie Lee Curtis. The performance left viewers divided, some finding it cringeworthy and difficult to watch(Opens in a new tab) while others laud it as highly camp.

It should be noted that “camp” is defined as an aesthetic that appeals precisely because it is bad, with people liking it ironically. So no matter which way you look at it, pretty much everyone agrees the performance wasn’t great.

DeBose has since deactivated her Twitter account, presumably in response to the less than favorable reviews. In the meantime, the internet has done what it always does when someone has a publicly embarrassing moment, and turned it into a meme. 

More specifically, it has latched onto DeBose’s line, “Angela Bassett did the thing.”(Opens in a new tab)

Though she hasn’t made any official statement, DeBose does appear to be aware of her performance’s impact, responding to a meme compilation on Instagram(Opens in a new tab) with, “Honestly I love this.”

Speaking to Variety(Opens in a new tab), BAFTA Awards producer Nick Bullen said that DeBose and her team put the performance together in a few weeks, and that he “absolutely loved it.” In his view the rap was a great success, and the widespread criticism can largely be attributed to people not liking change and expecting the BAFTAs to be more formal.

“Our brief from BAFTA and the BBC was they wanted the show to feel as though it had more energy, had more warmth, had a broader reach in terms of age range and diversity,” Bullen said. I’m sure many would prefer he didn’t blame diversity for this.

Bullen’s production company Spun Gold is currently under a two-year contract to produce the BAFTAs, meaning it’s also in charge of May’s BAFTA Television Awards and next year’s ceremonies. So there’s a good chance that viewers will eventually have a new moment to add to their camp catalogue, and Angela Bassett won’t be alone in doing the thing.

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