[NOTE: Because so many people, looking for the Fr*d videos, have been drawn here via a web search, I have edited the post to reduce it’s hit rate via Google and other search engines. An asterisk replaces the letter "e" in Fr*d’s name. jbmahaffie, April 1, 2009.]
Fr*d is the YouTube character of a Nebraska teenager, Lucas Cruikshank. I came across his videos because they kept turning up under Most Viewed or Most Popular on Youtube. Most viewed doesn’t make the content of a video valid or even viewable, but in my view, it makes it important to know about. His 19 videos have a combined view total of over 4 million, and Fr*d’s YouTube channel has 290,762 subscribers, the 4th highest total on YouTube. A few weeks ago, while giving a talk I nicknamed "Environmental Scanning 2.0," I was advocating that good scanning includes knowing what the mass of people are watching and liking. That means tv shows you might not like or even approve of. It means what’s hot on YouTube too. One attendee pushed back hard on this, telling me that there was no way she was going to waste her time watching the drivel on YouTube. I thought I had made my case, but stated it again, and got some support from others there. I said that no matter what you think aesthetically or intellectually about the content, it may help you understand your society better. The Fr*d videos are kind-of awful, but strangely interesting. I think they are interesting because, even though they are silly satire, they may represent a modern teen’s ideas about life, family, and society. I have a teen, so I’ve become acutely interested in that. So steel yourself, and go watch a Fr*d video. Hate it, love it, but surely know about it. Fred’s video channel is here.
Update: Please see also this special page on environmental scanning.