John Green: Author, vlogger, world suck-remover, award-winner. Green is making his way to Clowes Memorial Hall Tuesday for the conclusion of the fall 2011 Vivian S. Delbrook Visiting Writers Series. It won’t be a long drive—Green is a Naptown native who lives here with his wife and son. Green has won an array of awards for his young adult novels, along with starting a YouTube channel with his brother Hank. It started the geek version of a cult following—just as Jerry Garcia had his Deadheads, the Green brothers have their nerdfighters. It’s a little much to take in. Don’t worry—we created a handy navigational tool to understand all of Green’s world.
What is a nerdfighter? While many definitions arise on Tumblrs, websites and YouTube videos, we’ll go with the definition from Hank and John’s FAQ video: “Instead of being made out of bones and skin and tissue, [a nerdfighter] is made entirely of awesome.” Or, in Hank’s simpler definition, a nerdfighter just tries to fight against world suck—which is pretty self-explanatory, but if you need word clarification, check our nerdfighter dictionary in this article. Need more? Search “How to be a Nerdfighter: A Vlogbrothers FAQ” on YouTube.
We have nerdfighters walking around our very campus—people like Logan Richard, a senior creative writing and philosophy major, Melissa Rangel, a junior secondary education major and Eric Ellis, a junior English major.
Rangel said she has watched every Green brothers video and follows their other YouTube channels. She follows both brothers on Tumblr and Facebook, along with John’s wife on Tumblr. She owns three nerdfighter posters and ordered a T-shirt as well.
Clearly, the Green brothers encourage devotion.
“[John Green] seems like a very smart, genuine and friendly guy who has this cool life writing books and being an Internet celebrity, and he shares it all with his fans,” Richard said. “He does these cool and crazy things like making up catchphrases and helping build water wells in Haiti.
“His books are honest and thoughtful, and in his videos he blends entertainment with education seamlessly. I think that’s what people respond to—he’s just a fun person to listen to. Why wouldn’t you want a guy like that to tell you a story?”
For some people it’s a lot simpler.
“I’m a firm believer that the world should suck less,” Ellis said.
John Green: In His Own Words
On his books: The most fun I’ve ever had writing was working on “An Abundance of Katherines,” because it’s funny (some would say slight), and I was able to indulge my interest in trivia and child prodigies. But “The Fault in Our Stars” was by far the most fulfilling and engrossing writing experience of my life.
On “Looking for Alaska” achieving such success: I think it resonates because it feels contemporary in a way that other coming-of-age novels don’t, and hopefully because it assumes that teenagers—both as characters and as readers—are not idiots.
On collaborating for “Will Grayson, Will Grayson”: Writing is a lonely business. It’s quiet, contemplative work. I enjoy the quiet of writing, but I also like collaborating, because sometimes I need to be pulled out of myself, both as a writer and as a person.
On what he’ll be doing at Clowes: I’ll be reading from my new book, “The Fault in Our Stars,” and also talking about writing and the internet and how I think they’re shaping each other.
On his vlogs: We are tremendously lucky to be part of this growing community of people devoted to finding ways to use the internet to make the world a healthier and more productive place to live.
On being recognized: It’s a lot of fun to meet nerdfighters in real life, and I’m always delighted that anyone other than my mom watches and reads the stuff I make. Most of the people who come up to me and introduce themselves are college students; the younger people tend to just kind of stare at me.
On the true definition of being a nerdfighter: Being a nerdfighter is essentially about celebrating intellectualism and finding ways to decrease the overall worldwide level of suck.
“Looking for Alaska”—Miles Halter lives in Florida, doesn’t have any friends and likes to find out famous peoples’ last words. He leaves home to go to Culver Creek boarding school in Alabama to find his “Great Perhaps.” Along the way, he finds Alaska, the beautiful, untouchable and broken girl of his dreams.
“An Abundance of Katherines”—After being dumped by 19 girls all named Katherine, Colin Singleton sets out on a road trip with his friend to prove a “mathematical theorum he hopes will predict the future of any relationship.”
“Paper Towns”—Enter another unattainable dream girl. This time her name is Margo Roth Spiegelman. Her neighbor, Quentin Jacobsen, has pined after her for years until one night she takes him on a whirlwind night adventure. It’s not as simple as it sounds—it won the 2009 Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery.
“Will Grayson, Will Grayson”—Co-written with David Levithan (“Nick & Nora’s Infinite Playlist”), the novel is the story of two boys each named Will Grayson whose worlds start to intersect and cause their lives to head down new paths.
“The Fault in Our Stars”—To be released in January
DFTBA: Don’t forget to be awesome.
Worldsuck: In essence, all the bad and/or stupid things in the world.
Puppy elephants: The Green brothers asked natural selection for these, because they would have the “evolutionary advantage of being adorable.”
French the llama: John’s attempt at working a phrase into daily conversation.
Puff levels: John’s puff levels of his hair equal his amount of stress.
Decepticon: The opposite of a nerdfighter.
Giant squid of anger: A YouTube “troll.”
Tiny chicken disease: When tiny chickens hatch eggs that ooze out of your nose—or, a common cold.
Secret sibling: Anyone who makes video responses to Hank and John.
In your pants: An extremely fun game when you start to add this phrase to the end of book titles.
Notsome: The opposite of awesome.
The Katherine: Hank’s wife.
The Yeti: John’s wife, named because she—in the words of John—will be featured heavily in stories and mythology but will rarely be seen.
Evil baby orphanage: Once there’s a time machine, people should go back in time, take all the evil dictators, such as baby Hitler, and put them in an evil baby orphanage to raise them as nerdfighters.
So jokes: A word to replace “cool.”
Stuff on heads: Doing this makes you feel better about your life.
Bedododo: Used as a greeting and sign of happiness.
Nerdfighter hand sign: Spock’s “live long and prosper” sign done with both hands and palms facing inward.