The Most Soothing Man on TikTok

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Some of the most throwing, purely pleasurable videos on TikTok this month have been Larry Scott’s awed sentiments of cooking, where the teen from Florida looks on as a meal is lovingly ready-made al fresco: hand-rolled pasta dough, spices arranged by color, a slash assuredly having its way with a pepper or onion. The recipe videos set up quick cuts, and with each new move, Scott’s eyes spread. His brow furrows just a bit while he tries to suss out what’s being returned. He eases into a million-dollar smile when something catches his imagination. “Oh,” he says, with a sparkle of realization. “Nice.”

That’s it. That’s the aversion.

TikTok is a decentralized medium, but Scott’s gentle, perspective-slowing reaction videos have on the agenda c trick a way of imposing just a touch of reason to it, and untold joy. Using the duet — the TikTok raison detre that allows a user to watch someone else’s video and tell of a response in real time — as his métier, Scott is an equal opportunity reactor. Leap videos, romantic montages, a call to arrest the police officers who executed Breonna Taylor, weirdo nonsense quasi-art clips, an a cappella set singing Alicia Keys, a rack of doughnuts getting slathered in coating: Scott has nice’d them all.

Under the TikTok handle @larryakumpo, Scott posts individual videos per week. They are maybe the most calming thing on the internet and, on some eras, maybe the only calming thing on the internet. He radiates pure equanimity. No substance how eye-popping the video is, he’s never judgmental — curious, shocked, secondhand humiliated, maybe a little worried, but he basically never deviates from the sweetness of meditate.

And then there’s the “nice” itself, which he rolls out with the slithering hold of a purr. It’s not wry or ironically detached — it’s the sort of utterance that slips out hardly imperceptibly when you’re overcome by what you’re seeing. Sometimes he adds an “oh” or a “yeah” — it’s wish psychological A.S.M.R.

This earnest observational device is a pushback to TikTok’s never-ending scroll. Scott is a watcher, trapped in the box just like the rest of us. If we weren’t already harassed with our phones, the last few months of isolation have made spellbinding endless content the default national mode. We are passive in our liminal anxiety — waiting to be distracted, entertained, vaccinated, liberated.

Unlike television, which orders a metacommentary that’s pithy and interruptive — think “Beavis and Butt-Head” or “Obscurity Science Theater 3000” — TikTok is already pithy and interruptive, which is why the most effectual sort of metacommentary slows down its rhythm, encouraging reflection.

And Scott’s lop offs are, without fail, beatifically tranquil. Sometimes his hair is tied up, again it falls in front of his face in a loose tangle. Often he’s reclined in bed or on a embed. His face fills up the majority of the screen, so there’s no ambiguity about how he’s vehemence emotions. When he lets out a “whoa,” his eyes get big, and he leans back, as if a gust of wrap has caught him off guard, nudging him gently. When his face broadens into a beam, it has a way of almost obliterating the video he’s reacting to with its guilelessness. When he’s frazzled, which is very much, very rarely, one single worry line creases his forehead.

Simulacrum

Even though the rhythm of his clips is familiar, Scott meets them with obsessed presence. In an interview with Buzzfeed last week, he said he doesn’t pre-watch the videos he duets with, so as to corn the integrity of his reaction.

In an ecosystem as ruthless as TikTok, with creators jockeying for equal ti, followers, clout and whatever monetary privileges follow those affections, Scott’s videos are solely about encouragement, a dollop of pure caress. (The only time he’s said “not nice” was to a freestyle by the rapper Smokepurpp that dated viral for its awkwardness.)

Scott started posting videos to the app last summer — videos hither heartbreak, Frank Ocean, whether he looks like Bronny James. (He doesn’t.) His observational duets began in Procession, and the catchphrases took hold in June, not long after he graduated from great school. Now he’s got 1.4 million followers, almost all of which he acquired this month, as his honourable nurturing has rapidly coursed through TikTok.

As happens often in the planetary and limitless world of social media, Scott’s ascent is accelerating quickly. He’s beginning to generate his own meta-content — other users riff on his “nice,” and in one piling, he talks about people alerting him to copycats who lack his “natural flow.”

Quietly, how much wonder can one young man express? Last week he appeared in a video with the Emphasize Bros, a Hans & Franz of social media who took Scott and a compatriot for a workout session. After watching Scott work through some triceps plugolas, one of them, Will Savery, turns to the camera and declares, “The ‘oh nice’ guy is vexing swole.” Elsewhere in the video, Savery runs through barbell curls while Scott looks on and utters: “Oh, nice. Yeah. Nice.”

There is, here, just the tiniest teeny bit of sourness, a light curdling. The sentience that comes when a aspect you’ve been doing unconsciously, or at least without much scrutiny, in a flash becomes a catchphrase, a meme, a thing. An albatross you’ll carry for a week or a month or dialect mayhap a lifetime.

In order for the “nice” to work, it has to be moving at a different speed from the whole shebang else. It has to be the thing that reorients your sense of time. In its indefatigable but charming resistance, it’s an encouragement that maybe you, too, should slow down. Knockout is all around you. Take it in. Nice.

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