Discover more from Embedded
Another tough watch, thanks
Creators are being cringe on purpose
Embedded is your essential guide to what’s good on the internet, written by Kate Lindsay and edited by Nick Catucci.
Thanks for your patience during the holidays! It’s good to be back and I’m excited to soon share what we have planned for the new year. —Kate
The internet is a masochist’s playground: In a matter of minutes, I can look up my ex, watch a sad video about neglected puppies on YouTube, and post in one of those Reddit threads where people ask if their makeup looks good. But that self-sabotage is unavoidable on TikTok, where one stumbles through a surplus of garden variety cringe content—subpar attempts at song covers and poorly-executed video transitions—that the algorithm regularly surfaces. The discomfort of witnessing genuine cringe seems to be weirdly addicting—which is likely why a plethora of creators have emerged to instigate that discomfort on purpose.
My introduction to this genre was through Avery McClure, a TikTok creator with over 58,000 followers. I’ve followed him for about a year now and still couldn’t really tell you what exactly his videos are. They’re like skits, but after setting up a benign scenario—ordering coffee, meeting someone at a dog park, explaining what “toast” is—they meander for at least a minute with no discernable script. The joke, such as it is, is that McClure’s character cannot speak a normal sentence.
The one thing that cringe videos like McClure’s seem to share is a particular comment you’ll find beneath most of them: “Another tough watch, thanks!” Success is measured by how difficult it was for the viewer to get through.
Veronika Slowikowska, with 71,000 followers, is another “tough watch” creator. In one of her most popular videos, she laughs while practicing the delivery of a joke in a mirror. The video slow-fades to her at a Thanksgiving table, telling the joke to a group of people, where, of course, it bombs.
“This was EXCRUCIATING..thank you,” one comment reads.
“I am cringing from places I’ve never felt before,” reads another.
The latest creator to join the Cringe Cinematic Universe is @wisewordsfromneve, who put “Just another tough watch” right in her bio. Neve’s videos are basically boomer Minion memes reinterpreted for TikTok. She stands uncomfortably in front of the camera, seemingly unsure of what to do with her hands, while just managing to eke out lines like, “My New Year resolution is to stop procrastinating…but I’ll start that next week.”
“Painful watch. Marry me,” reads a top comment.
Enable 3rd party cookies or use another browser
Embarrassing internet characters aren’t new—some performers parlayed their success with them into acting and comedy careers, like Miranda Sings, who got a Netflix series. But 2010s characters like Miranda slapped you in the face with their ridiculousness. This new wave is something more subtle. McLure and Slowikowska and Neve are not playing larger-than-life characters. Their personas are all too familiar, like the versions of yourself that you’ve tried not to think about since unsuccessfully pretending to hear what someone said at a loud party, or bungling what you thought would be a witty comment in a job interview. You think you’re watching a normal comedy video until … Oh no … what’s happening … God, this is cringe. But you watch the whole thing, and scroll on, proud of yourself for making it through. You might even comment your thanks, and come back to do it all again next time.