ariana debose at the 2023 bafta awards wearing a white sheer dress and necklace

Shutterstock/Fred Duval (Licensed)

‘Angela Bassett did the thing’ is still riding the meme wave

People can’t seem to stop sharing clips of Ariana DeBose’s song.


Tiffany Kelly

Internet Culture

Posted on Feb 25, 2023   Updated on Feb 27, 2023, 6:40 am CST

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AHN-GELA BASSETT did the thing. Unless you’ve been completely offline the past week, that sentence is probably rattling around in your head continuously

Its catchiness is part of the reason why it went viral following the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs) on Feb. 19. Another reason? The accompanying dance. Ariana DeBose, who won an Oscar last year for her performance in West Side Story, delivered a rap that gave shout-outs to all the female nominees at the BAFTAs.

It felt like a typical award ceremony stunt until she got to Angela Bassett, who was being recognized for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The way she pronounces “Angela” and her hand movements cemented it as a viral moment—as did the camera shots of the nominees in the audience. 

I first saw the clip on Sunday night on Twitter, after a user shared the video with the caption, “no way this is real.” The video in that tweet now been viewed more than 7 million times

Once the video hit the internet, the reactions came quick. There were people who called it “cringe,” but the voices of those who loved it and said it was “camp” overshadowed the criticism. 

“She will have stans for LIFE after serving that level of camp to us on a platter,” wrote one Twitter user. Still, in light of the performance going viral, DeBose deleted her Twitter account. She is still active on Instagram, however, and responded positively to memes of “Angela Bassett did the thing.” 

There are also memes about the other parts of the song—including “Jamie Lee, you are all of us” and “Blanchett, Cate, you’re a genius.” And some people are enjoying dissecting the entire performance

On Twitter, people can’t seem to stop sharing clips of the DeBose’s song, and now, there’s another layer to the performance. Music director Benjamin Rauhala shared a clip of DeBose getting ready for her BAFTA performance on TikTok, and her exaggerated pronunciation, AHN-GELA, is in it. That means that this moment wasn’t a spontaneous decision, as many people had thought. She planned it, along with the hand movements. 

Why it matters

Even though it’s an earworm, “Angela Bassett did the thing” did do something: It got everyone to memorize the names of several talented women who acted in, or were involved in the making of, 2022’s films. 

Will any moment at the upcoming Oscars top “Angela Bassett did the thing”? We’ll have to wait a couple of weeks to find out, but the Academy apparently has a “crisis team” on hand this year to respond to any incidents like last year’s Slap

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*First Published: Feb 25, 2023, 6:00 am CST