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YouTube Channel of the Week

YouTube Channel of the Week #12: Fred Red

This week, a hobbyist, but his hobby is making cardboard cut outs of Lana Del Rey and having conversations with them.

YouTube is probably the greatest anthropological project ever launched. It has managed to expose the multitudes of the human condition more than any other medium ever created, and allowed people to express themselves in more diverse ways than at any point in history. This weekly column is an outlet for me to share with you some undiscovered gems, as well some very well-trodden gems, and discuss just what it is that makes the chosen accounts so intriguing.


WHO: Fred Red
WHAT: A man who talks to a cardboard cut out of Lana Del Rey.
WHY SHOULD I CARE: Something you all should have learned at school is that it's not good to laugh at people who don't deserve it. Watching the school bully get a mouthful of mud after being tripped into a pool of shite and hyperventilating with laughter is perfectly acceptable behaviour, but pointing at and jibing the kid with the Thomas the Tank Engine pencil case is not cool. I would say, however, that it is good, maybe even important, to laugh with them. If there's a quirk they enjoy, be it Warhammer, be it drone modification, it's good to lightly rib, but not destroy. Making someone's hobby a point of fun can be a bonding experience if done the right way. One of the guys who works here at VICE makes scale model aeroplanes, a fact that, after several drinks, becomes almost impossible not to mention and mock. In the case of Fred Red, this approach works, as Fred isn't hurting anyone, but his hobby is very strange.

His name isn't actually Fred, though. It's Bob, and he lives in Massachusetts. Bob is a huge Lana Del Rey fan, and owns more than one cut out of the sultry chanteuse, in a variety of poses and expressions. It's unclear whether he makes them himself, though unless the Lana Del Rey Cardboard Cut-Out Emporium had a closing down sale, I'd say it was likely.


In each of his videos, most of which are around 15 minutes long, the silver-haired Bob engages in conversation with the cut-outs, mostly about either current events (such as the death of David Bowie) or milestones in Lana's career, like an album release. In the David Bowie clip, Bob stresses that he is not a stalker and is harmless, after hearing about other arrests for stalking. He even invites the Lana cut-out to concur, which she does.

Bob's impression of Lana is… Not sinister, but perhaps a little odd. He does it with his eyes glued to the floor, head bowed, like a cartoon child who has knocked over a pail of paint onto the new rug, hands behind his back, with a 'sowee' on the way. He's taken the real Lana, who is popularised as a smoky, sexy, independent, druggy femme fatale, and made her into a submissive, light-voiced dainty indie type.

I don't, however, think this is a reflection on Bob's psyche. I don't think he's a creep hell bent on infantilising a famous woman for his own peculiar desires. He appears to be, simply, a fan, expressing his fandom in a different way. If you think about it, the litany of other ways people pay homage to their favourite celebs is far stranger. Yaoi, fan fiction, threatening to rape and murder people if they 'talk trash about 1D' – in many ways, Bob's dedication to his favourite artist (I'm assuming she's his favourite) is more innocent than all of them.


I have regularly said both in print and out loud with my mouth that fans are the worst part of any medium. Movies, books, music, art – the people who put the most in, who care the most, are invariably the worst facet of any given thing. The forum warriors, the ultra nerds, the threateners, the 'actually' guys – they all make otherwise palatable things tawdry and shit through their excessive social-media-led deification of their chosen obsession du jour. Fred Red is just an older guy with some sticky back plastic, glue, cardboard, a printer and a Google image search of 'Lana Del Rey' saved as a bookmark.

I know for a fact that anyone watching any of the videos posted in here will be wary of Fred, or Bob, and his out-there way of showing someone that he loves them. But to me it's a good exercise in accepting the good in actions that, on the face of it, might seem to contain traces of bad. Bob isn't a bad man, he isn't a freak, he isn't a stalker, he just really likes Lana Del Rey. He's a 58-year-old teenager, and why the fuck shouldn't he be afforded the same live-and-let-live courtesy they are? Besides, the teenagers are the ones who are more likely to demand that you die in a forest fire after implying Zayn's fade isn't so fresh. Count your blessings.


More from VICE:

YouTube Channel of the Week #11: Vegan Gains

YouTube Channel of the Week #10: The Crude Brothers & EricSurf6

YouTube Channel of the Week #9: Jay Cooper