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A Year of Sincerity and Humor with Brotherhood 2.0

Here’s the format: a man’s face, speaking quickly, fills a small screen on the Web page. Fast cuts jam his witticisms together. He’s talking about his brother, Hank, and something about “nerdfighters” and charities. You can’t grasp the whole of what he says. Something about punishments and Fraggle Rock, the 80’s animated children’s television series.

The man is John Green. He’s reading a viewer comment: “If a nerdfighter falls in the forest and there’s no one there to hear her fall, is she still made of awesome?”

His reply: “That’s an excellent question and very plausible because everyone knows that, one, nerdfighters are clumsy and, two, we do spend a lot of time alone. The answer is that nerdfighters are made out of even more awesome when they act nerdfighterly when no one is watching.”

This is Brotherhood 2.0, a year-long video blog project of brothers and self-proclaimed geeks, Hank and John Green. Hank lives in Missoula and runs the environmental Web site Eco Geek. John is an author of young adult fiction who recently moved to Indianapolis

The brothers’ enthusiasm and humor has been infectious. Their viewership quickly grew to include more than 10,000 regulars. A few timely or particularly funny shows pulled in phenomenal numbers, like the one featuring a song by Hank called “Accio Deathly Hallows.” That one was viewed nearly 900,000 times. Some of those viewers stuck around. Lately, the daily video blog audience has swelled to more than 40,000 viewers, many of who identify themselves as “nerdfighters” with an endearing earnestness.

Who are these people? What is a nerdfighter? Why do Hank and John use “awesome” as a noun and not an adjective? Are they being serious or sarcastic when thanking nerdfighters for whatever they’re thanking them for?

These subjects and more are explored on Brotherhood 2.0. And the answer to the last question is “serious.”

The brothers are funny, true, but, while John sometimes has an ironical glint in his eye, their sincerity is what sets them apart.

At his apartment, Hank, who tucks his feet beneath himself on the couch, told me the other day that he and his brother had been text messaging each other a lot in recent years, which was lame, because it was always done while they were doing other things, so they never really connected, Hank said.

Plus, John thought YouTube might be a good way to promote his latest book.

Also, Hank is something of a student of the Internet. He had studied the popularity of lonelygirl15, who turned out to be a choreographed fiction, and zefrank, who didn’t. More importantly, zefrank, Hank says, figured out how to make video blogs that didn’t bore viewers and could attract a faithful following.

By posting their video communications on YouTube, John and Hank allowed any viewer into their brotherhood.

It was weird at first, Hank said, because people on the Internet want to feel something, and often the easiest thing to feel is anger, so people in the comment section generally fling hate on everyone available.

But some viewers like to feel connected and good, too. They responded to the humor and sincerity of Hank and John and have become involved in charities, for instance, and otherwise have made a difference in the world, or, in the language of Brotherhood 2.0, have decreased “world suck.”

Right. These guys do take themselves pretty seriously. But in a good way. I guess that’s why they’re nerdfighters. (The term came from a video game, which, because of a bad font, “appears to be called nerdfighters,” John had said to Hank.)

Another cool thing about this long-term experiment? It didn’t cost a lot of money. The domain cost less than $10. The monthly hosting cost was about the same. The digital cameras were gifts – and setback to the giver about $300. The only thing the brothers bought were tripods, which cost only about $30. Not a lot of overhead for a way to reach Web surfers around the world.

As for the top secret project, you’re going to have to watch the final video blogs for that one.

About Robert Struckman

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17 comments

  1. They have done amazing things, mostly involving community service. They have also provided great confidence for people who used to think of being a “Nerd” was a low profile on the Popularity ladder. These two are great guys and have developed a community of great people. Congrats Hank and John. DFTBA

  2. Excellent piece. Covers Bro 2.0 to a tee.
    Love how John answered that question.
    Thanks for not wasting my time 😀
    Nerdfighters FTW!

  3. I can’t stand YouTube and everyone trying to become some kind of famous vloger and the like. It bothers me. Makes me angry. But Hank and John Green have changed the face of vlogging forever for me, and I think the world.

    Simply they are two brothers who care for people and the world around them. Can they be cynical, sure. Funny, absolutely. Honest, most definitely. I thank them for all the awesome that they have brought back in the world, and into my life, and for decreasing the world suck levels. I tip my many hats to them and their efforts. They have exposed the world of nerds and nerdfighters and create a community of world suck fighters, the bringers of money for concerts to the musicless and helping lovers traverse wild terrain via train.

    Thank you Hank and John. The world is now a better place because of you two.

    This article has given only a small, but very nerdfighterly, glimpse of the awesome that is the Green dou.

    DFTBA

  4. Thanks for bringing more formal attention to a uniquely awesome phenomenon. Every well-known and respected publication that writes about the brothers make it easier for me to defend my ridiculous attachment to them to friends and parents skeptical about blog/vlog culture. In addition, you hit the nail right on the head: what’s been refreshing about this project is the sincerity. While the humor has been priceless and the chin-waxings glorious, it’s the brother’s rare combination of earnestness and intelligence that made Brotherhood 2.0 an enormous part of my life this past year.

  5. This isnt your ordinary video blog. Hank and John both try very hard to make something that has truely brought people togeather. Its a sort of online community that has banded togeather and who is proud to call themselves nerdfighters.

    I think it IS John’s and Hank’s sincerity that has kept their viewers. It’s kind of funny….we dont know Hank and John personally, but we have fallen in love with them. They have changed the face of vlogging and it wont be soon forgotten.

    Thanks John. Thank you Hank.

  6. Nerdfighters for life!
    Thanks for covering them. Although 2007 is over, the project will live on both through the internet and in our hearts. It changed a lot of people, and it changed the way i see the internet. What they did may have been gimmicky at times and it may have brought John more readers but are those bad things? They were always sincere and they loved doing it as much as we loved them doing it!
    DFTBA

  7. TeacherLibrarian

    I consider B2.0 to be one of the blessings I received in 2007. It was so refreshing to discover these two young men who are not only very intelligent, and funny, and entertaining, but also genuinely good people. They have restored my faith in humankind and in the future of our world.

    Nerdfighters FTW!

  8. Awesome article. I’ve always thought that the fact that John and Hank are themselves to the camera and don’t put up any kind of front to try to impress us is what makes them so awesome.

    DFTBA!

  9. I completely agree with TeacherLibrarian. B2.0 IS a blessing. It brought so many awesome people together. I’m actually doing my slot my high school’s radio station right now and I’m playing Accio Deathly Hallows as a tribute to the end! DFTBA!

  10. Hurray for John and Hank! Brotherhood 2.0 was awesome. 🙂

  11. Great article on a great phenomenon. Who would have thought that when they started their video project in January 2007 that it would grow into such a loyal and wonderful community. They are definitely fun to watch and entertaining and interesting, but they also bring the dialogue to a higher level in many cases. Or lower in some, like the punishments of drinking blended peeps or chin waxing… he he. They’ve helped their mostly youthful following be proud of being nerds, think about ways to make the world a better place (aka decrease worldsuck), and embrace their idealism and joy as the way to be in the world. They make me want to do my Happy Dance!

  12. The following that the brothers Green have gathered is a truly amazing and awesome thing, one which I am happy to be a part of. Excellent article on them and the project, you captured the charm that is their awesome.

  13. This article is made of awesome! Hank and John have created wonderful things and brought together an amazing community. 2007 was a great year(I can’t even explain in words how awesome it was) and I’m looking forward to the fantastic year to come. Thank you guys for all you have done.

    Nerdfighters FTW!
    Court

  14. ditto to above. all of the above. looking forward to seeing what 2008 presents! see you in my pants.

  15. nerdfighters are so made of awesome. Meet chy’all in my pants.

  16. Honestly I think one of the most amazing things about Nerdfighteria (or BH2)is that it has managed to create its own world, complete with a dialectial lexicon.

    And I agree with previous comments, John and Hank provided much needed stress release and, as a result, is an immense blessing! Thanks guys! You truly are the models for awesome!

  17. It doesn’t seem like Hank & John ever had the goal to become popular on youtube. That’s probably why we like them so much. They just wanted to reconnect as brothers and in the process found so many more youtubers to befriend. We love you and DFTBA!