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Angelo DiTocco

Having been on YouTube for a long time, I often see people expressing sentiments about how they wish the platform could go back to its older days. Back in the ‘00s, there was no “YouTube drama” and there were no “ad-pocalypses” to worry about. But as I’ve said many times before, those who get nostalgic for the past are often looking at it through rose-colored glasses. The YouTuber “Fred” is a prime example of this.

By uttering his name, I have probably unlocked many of your repressed memories, as his signature high-pitched voice is now ringing through your ears. If you didn’t know, “Fred” was a guy who figured out that the Windows Movie Maker “speed-up” effect changed the pitch of his voice and was somehow able to make a living off of that. He became so popular that some movie directors decided to capitalize on his success by making a trilogy. That’s right—a trilogy. We have to deal with the fact that there are three full-length movies of this guy talking in his annoying high-pitched voice and acting like a complete doofus.

Some of my friends and I have taken ironic pleasure in watching the films, admiring how bad they are. In fact, one of my friends from high school, Justin, claims that he’s watched them dozens of times, which he backs up with his ability to recite their plots from memory. I am not quite as well-versed in these films, having only watched each of them once during my last three days of online high school in 2021.

To show the elaborate and delusional nature of Fred’s imagination, many scenes of the trilogy show an “alternate timeline” of something that doesn’t actually happen in the plot, be it a hallucination, a dream, a fantasy, or a flashback. In addition, Fred demonstrates a very poor understanding of what is happening in the real world. Some viewers, including my friend Justin, interpret these scenes as schizophrenic hallucinations and delusions and claim that Fred suffers from schizophrenia. He even went so far as to write a paper for a college assignment explaining his belief, which was supposedly so compelling that it received a grade of 98%. Since then, he has consistently claimed that “fred is a skitzofrenic [sic]” in many conversations with others and even on a first date.

However, I tend to be more skeptical of these kinds of fan-theories. I had already known about a very similar theory—that Candace from Phineas and Ferb was a real person who suffered from schizophrenia—that was easily proven false. So I decided to look further into the evidence supporting this claim so I could come to my own conclusion. This meant doing the unthinkable and rewatching both the original Fred: The Movie as well as Fred 3: Camp Fred (the second one is so bad that I don’t think it’s even ironically worth rewatching).

I then began writing this article expecting to neatly explain away any and all signs of schizophrenia in the main character and declare myself the victor. However, although some scenes are indeed better explained by Fred just being a weird and lonely kid, other scenes seem to indicate that Fred actually does have schizophrenia. I found myself stretching the truth in my arguments at times. 

In my second attempt at writing this article (including another rewatch), I aim to be as objective as possible as I explore which mental disorders Fred might have, if any. Since this article can only be so long, I’ll be analyzing the first movie only, as this one provides the most insight into Fred’s psyche. I hope you enjoy this opportunity to see the absurdity of Fred without having to actually listen to him.

Fred: The Movie begins on a Friday afternoon with the “protagonist” reflecting on his day at school. He’s already screaming. His hyperactive personality—the main thing that makes him so insufferable besides his high-pitched voice—could be caused by nearly anything, as excessive talking or movement have been listed as symptoms of schizophrenia, autism, and ADHD.

It’s not long after that the main plot point shows up, as we’re introduced to Fred’s love interest, Judy. After stalking her on her way home from school, Fred tells us that she’s his girlfriend. This is one of the first signs of schizophrenia, as Fred is deluded that Judy is in love with him when she’s clearly not. At the same time, Fred can’t tell by Judy’s nonverbal behavior that she clearly doesn’t care about him, which could be attributed to other disorders such as autism instead.

Fred further reflects on what he calls the “worst Friday ever” as he commits the heinous act of reheating French fries in the microwave. He also explains that he uses the phrase “oh my Gammit” because he supposedly isn’t allowed to use the “d-word”. This would be normal for a young child to do, but Fred is 15 years old in the movie. This is the first of many examples of Fred’s failure to grow out of his childlike behaviors, though I’m not sure if this is caused by a mental disorder or Fred’s lack of parental guidance. Fred also uses the word “hacking” instead of “fucking” or even “freaking.”

After fantasizing a romantic “date” between himself and Judy not once, but twice, Fred then tries to make his way over to Judy’s house to invite her over, but his bully, Kevin, gets in the way and scares him off. (Kevin has some problems of his own, but that’s outside the scope of this article.) When all hope seems lost, who else shows up but JOHN CENA!!! Da-da-da-daaa! The wrestler plays the role of Fred’s absent father and seemingly appears out of nowhere to motivate him. It might be interpreted that Fred thinks John Cena is really in the room with him, but judging by recent social trends (namely the epidemic of fatherlessness in today’s generation of young men), I think that this is just a cinematic exaggeration of Fred idolizing the wrestler as a father figure and seeking masculine advice from him.

The movie somehow drags on for nearly ten more minutes until Fred finally makes it to Judy’s house by using his mother’s clothes as a disguise. (Who knows? Maybe Fred will go by “she/they” in a fourth movie if that’s ever made.) Anyway, he looks inside the window to see an Asian family instead. So he comes to a very rational conclusion: “Oh my Gammit! Asian people kidnapped Judy!” This delusion, along with a few others that the world is conspiring to keep Fred and Judy apart, give further credence to the possibility of schizophrenia.

Fred wrecks the living room when he finds out that Judy’s family actually moved to the other side of town. That night, as he sleeps with his stuffed animals, he has a dream and extrapolates that Judy wants him to go rescue her or something. The dream itself isn’t a hallucination, but what is probably schizophrenic is the fact that he thinks that Judy can telepathically send him a message. So Fred looks up Judy’s address online like the tech-savvy creep he is, and more than a third of the way into the movie, the adventure finally begins.

Our “hero” is off to a great start when he gets on the wrong bus. There, he meets a character called Derf who is the opposite of him. Derf is obviously just Fred’s imaginary friend. Not only does he suddenly disappear when the bus ride is over, but he later shows up in Fred’s house at the end of the movie. Imaginary friends are relatively normal for young children to have, but the extent to which Fred thinks Derf is real is too much to blame on Fred’s infantile nature.

Once he gets off the bus, Fred makes his way through many public spaces, demonstrating a lack of knowledge of the outside world that would make even a Reddit moderator jealous. He goes to a laundromat and tries to take off his own clothes to wash them, then he goes to a pet shop and calls the Pomeranians “squirrels” (and also tries to steal one). He doesn’t even know that other languages exist as he mistakes a Hispanic guy for a spaceman that’s trying to put voices in his head and ruin his brain.

Fred also needs to go through the woods for some reason, where he meets a talking deer. This is obviously a hallucination, but it’s worth noting that in Fred 3: Camp Fred, there’s a very similar scene in which he eats poisonous berries and hallucinates a rapping “crocobearimoose” (don’t worry about what that is). So maybe he’s just trippin’ on some berries here too and he just ate them off-camera.

Night falls as Fred finally arrives at Judy’s house only to find that she’s throwing a party that he wasn’t invited to. But Fred has no idea what a party even is, so he’s initially confused before he is humiliated. He throws up for some reason and a video of him doing so gets a whopping 50 views online. In an attempt to get revenge, Fred decides to host his own party and send out “dis-invitations” to everyone. The “dis-invitees” care about as much as you’d expect them to.

Among the people Fred planned to “disinvite” to his party was this alt girl, Bertha, but when he finds out she’s sympathetic for what happened to him, he changes his mind. The two get a bunch of clothes and mannequins and whatnot, and film a video with the intention of tricking everyone into thinking they actually did have an epic party. We actually get to see the montage, which is just as cringe-worthy as it is poorly edited. It drags on for three whole minutes.

What follows is the most confusing part of a movie I’ve ever seen—and I’ve seen Memento before, so that’s saying something. There’s this montage of all the kids at school telling the camera that they wish they could have been at Fred’s party. It’s so unnatural that it seems like Fred wrote the script for it. Lastly, Judy herself shows up at Fred’s doorstep asking to come inside and hang out with him. 

And then the movie ends. There’s no going “back to reality” like what happens with Fred’s other daydreams and hallucinations, but there is absolutely ZERO chance that any of this actually happened. I have no clue what this scene could possibly be, so I’m just gonna have to guess that it’s a hallucination. Perhaps the directors didn’t show what actually happened because “he gets shoved into a locker and beat up. The End” isn’t a great ending for an adventure-”comedy” film.

So, does Fred have schizophrenia? After my third time watching this movie, I’m inclined to agree that he does. Although some of his actions are better attributed to other mental disorders or to his flawed upbringing, some scenes can only be seen as schizophrenic hallucinations or delusions. However, I doubt that the directors had any of this in mind. I bet that their only vision of Fred’s character was an extremely weird and hyperactive kid, and they just put in a bunch of extra scenes resembling daydreams and hallucinations to pad the movie’s running time. 

As the reader, it’s up to you to decide what you think Fred does and does not suffer from. If you’re still unsure, feel free to watch the trilogy on your own. The second and third movies are available for free on YouTube, and you can find the first one for free as well if you look hard enough. You can also watch a reaction or review video if you want to save yourself a few hours and actually be entertained. Either way, be sure to keep your volume low.

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