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Culture > Entertainment

Angela Bassett Did The Thing & Twitter Is Doing Theirs: Memeing It

Twitter is widely recognized for its ability to create viral memes. It seems that every aspect of pop culture is immediately turned into a meme on this platform. From the Speaker Of The House voting memes to Rihanna’s Super Bowl halftime show, we can say that no one is safe from its meme-dom and Ariana DeBose’s performance at the 2023 BAFTAs was no exception. 

Ariana DeBose opened the BAFTAs 2023 this weekend (Feb. 19) with an original number and rap sequence honoring women in film, which led to a whirl of Twitter memes (and criticism) that led the Oscar-winning actress to delete her Twitter account. DeBose didn’t say anything offensive or derogatory in her opener… so why all the internet commotion?

Let’s just say that the performance rap sequence went viral for all the wrong reasons — with number one being how cringe Gen Z found it. DeBose’s number was an original piece that combined “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves” and “We Are Family”, along with an original “Vogue”-inspired rap that highlighted this year’s nominated actresses for their outstanding roles such as Dolly De Leon, Carey Mulligan, Michelle Yeoh, Viola Davis, Ana De Armas, Angela Bassett, Cate Blanchett, and Jamie Lee Curtis. DeBose was absolutely giving it her all, but when the rapping sequence began, however, she seemed to be out of breath. Mix that with some unironic girlboss-jargon and a lack of audience enthusiasm, and it’s a recipe for awkward awkward reactions from the crowd, including some of the female nominees mentioned. 

The most “memeable” part of the whole number, however, was DeBose’s calling on the female acting nominees by name, especially when she says, “Angela Bassett did the thing. Viola Davis, my woman king! Blanchett, Cate, you’re a genius. And Jamie Lee, you are all of us!” NGL, it was giving Roman’s Revenge era Nicki Minaj for a moment. 

Though, not everyone thinks that DeBose’s performance was cringe. While The Guardian describes the number as deeply and unsettlingly confusing, Nick Bellen, BEFTAS’s producer expressed how much he loved the performance and says that Twitter criticism of the opening number is “incredibly unfair.” 

DeBose hasn’t openly spoken about the criticism that followed her opening number nor about her deactivated Twitter account just yet. And although the criticisms she has received for her original piece are, IMHO, unnecessarily harsh, the Twitter memes are simply, hilarious.

First and foremost, Twitter can’t get over how Angela Basset really *did* do the thing.

Some users are poking fun at the nominees mentioned in the rap.

And, of course, Twitter has to tie in the meme with other viral pop culture moments and memes. Including that rendition of “Star Spangled Banner” Fergie sang in 2018. IYKYK.

Also, somehow, Twitter got the Royal Family involved.

After all the memes, I can’t get this out of my head. Twitter can’t either.

Claudia S. Colon Rosa is the Chapter Leader at the Her Campus at UPR chapter. In addition to overseeing all chapter affairs, she manages the magazine’s editorial and contributes to it as a fellow writer, mainly crafting articles under wellness, life, and entertainment. Beyond Her Campus, Claudia has worked as assistant editor for the English department’s academic journal, Sargasso, where she managed the journal’s printing press and distribution. She has also written for Rebeldia magazine and was part of the Her Campus National Writer program where she published an array of articles. She is currently a senior at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus, majoring in English Literature and pre-medical studies. When she’s not writing an essay or overwhelmed with chemistry formulas, Claudia loves to watch anime and exercise to dance parties on YouTube. She gets the best of both worlds and she wouldn’t want to have it any other way.