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Here's Why People Can't Stop Watching Those Bella Poarch TikToks

It's not a conspiracy. It's just what our brains tend to like.

Posted on October 1, 2020, at 12:37 p.m. ET

Bella Poarch/TikTok

The internet seems to really hate Bella Poarch.

The young woman went from being unknown to having the most-liked video on TikTok seemingly overnight. And, like clockwork, people immediately questioned how a simple close-up lip sync of “M to the B” by Millie B could have blown up so quickly.

Was she being boosted by a mysterious backer? Is the algorithm broken? Is a conspiracy afoot?

Slow down. There are plenty of reasons to believe it's not that deep.

Poarch's first big hit was a close-up lip sync of a mashup including "Hood Baby" and other viral hits that currently has 9.7 million likes.

@bellapoarch

I had to #repost because the sound didn’t match😂😌

♬ All TikTok Mashup (JVKE - Upside Down) - JVKE 🌩

For that one, she gave inspiration credit to Muhammad Afiq Hakim, a 23-year-old creator in Malaysia, for this video that he posted before hers.

@afiqhakim

its been a while i didnt zoom my hideous face #foryou #donflop #problem

♬ All TikTok Mashup (JVKE - Upside Down) - JVKE 🌩

But it didn't really start there, either. Hakim told BuzzFeed News he was inspired by a 2019 post from @kiri.jaz.

@kiri.jaz

#fy #fyp #foryou #duets when it says 33 seconds ago hhh but anyone can duet this if you want

♬ No Idea - Don Toliver

Although Poarch's version gained way more traction, Hakim is cool with it.

"I’m still shook to see many people from around the world duetting my video, it really warms my heart to see people vibing with me and I can’t stop smiling on each duets," he said. "Personally for me, it doesn’t matter who does it better or maybe who does it first — it’s everyone’s vibe."

What is consistent across all the videos is a flood of comments saying they find the video style oddly satisfying and addicting to watch over and over. That, too, is explainable.

Craig Richard is a professor of biopharmaceutical sciences at Shenandoah University who has studied ASMR, another notoriously satisfying internet phenomenon. These videos are different in that ASMR is more about relaxation, and this sort of face-dancing thing creates more of a joyful sensation. But he thinks there are certain factors at play.

The first is dead simple.

"We enjoy looking at attractive faces. Adults, children, and even babies tend to gaze longer at faces that are deemed as attractive," he said.

Adding to that, he said, is humans like looking at happy faces, get positive vibes from music with fast BPMs, like seeing people dance, and enjoy seeing something new.

"These videos are using a new camera effect that keeps the head centered for the viewer. Dopamine is strongly released during positive moments of novelty, which keeps us focused and intrigued," he said.

"Each of the statements above is not profound by itself. The importance here is that these videos seem to combine these components into a singular experience for the viewer — resulting in something that is oddly satisfying."

Poarch, who did not respond to BuzzFeed's request for comment, has been under fire for past social media posts and an offensive tattoo that have clouded her rise to fame, but the source of that fame is more clear-cut.

It's not as sexy an explanation as a shadowy conspiracy, but this would hardly be the first time a young, attractive woman got famous on the internet for doing something cute.


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