A BAFTA Producer Defended Ariana DeBose’s Opening Rap After Twitter Dragged It

February 21, 2023 / Posted by:

Sunday night’s BAFTA Awards featured a opening musical number performed by Oscar-winning triple threat Ariana DeBose. After host Richard E. Grant (mmmm [just me?]) kicked off the show with a monologue, 32-year-old Ariana burst onto the stage with her back-up dancers and sang “Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves” and “We Are Family”. OK, sure! But it’s what happened next that shook viewers to their core. Ariana transitioned into an original rap saluting the award show’s female nominees. By this point, our gal was out of breath. As she struggled to spit out lyrics like, “Hong Chau, Dolly de, Kerry and Carey with a C!”, the BAFTA director insisted on cutting to every woman Ariana namechecked. Their reactions ranged from unimpressed (Ana de Armas), concerned (Kerry Condon), to politely supportive (Emma Thompson). Even though the performance was a damn mess, the BAFTAs believed it was “iconic,” and posted a clip to their Twitter page. Big mistake, HUGE. Twitter did what Twitter does, and completely eviscerated poor Ariana and the rap.

Here’s the performance and some of the Twitter reactions:

The reaction was so harsh that Ariana deactivated her Twitter account. But she did leave the comment, “Honestly I Love this,” on this meme:

Yesterday morning, BAFTAs producer Nick Bullen told Variety that the online reaction was “incredibly unfair”. He says that Ariana “put the whole piece together” with her team, and she didn’t deserve the hate:

“We wanted to open the show with some energy, some fun, and also lay out straight away that this was hopefully going to feel like a different night, but with a familiarity as well, and what Ariana did was exactly that,” says Bullen.

“I think a lot of people don’t like change, and there’s a view that the BAFTAs have to be this slightly stiff, traditional British, middle-England messaging. But American awards shows have much more razzmatazz, much more showbiz, and perhaps a broader range of people being involved. We felt we’re not about revolution, we’re about evolution.”

Nick adds that they wanted the show to have “more energy” and “warmth,” with a “broader reach in terms of age range and diversity.” He claims that he “absolutely loved it”, and “everybody I’ve spoken to who was in the room absolutely loved it” (sure, Nick). He says:

That rap section in the middle, mentioning the women in the room, was because it’s been a great year for women in film, and we wanted to celebrate that. And here is a woman of color who is at the absolute top of her game. And she’s opening the BAFTAs with a song that said so much on so many levels. All of those mentions, I felt, from the moment we were rehearsing it right through to the transmission last night, spoke to what we wanted to do.

Nick’s missed the point here. Twitter isn’t saying, “I like my British award shows stuffy and filled with white people, and that’s why I’m mocking Ariana DeBose’s rap!” Twitter’s shitting on her performance cuz it was cringey chaos. That being said, nobody said it wasn’t catchy. I’ve been rapping “Hong Chau, Dolly de” at my cat all morning. He’s one “Hong Chau, Dolly de” away from attacking my face like those killer bunnies in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Pic: Doug Peters/PA Images/INSTARimages.com/Cover Images

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