Why are TFIOS autor John Green’s fans called Nerdfighters, and what’s with the weird hand gestures?


While the The Fault in Our Stars adaptation starring Shailene Woodley is set to take over the box office this weekend, fans are practically more excited to see John Green than the film’s actors. Most authors of best-selling YA novels don’t have quite the rock star quality of The Fault In Our Stars author John Green, who seems to have a following not just because of his awesome books, but also outside of them. He has a whole legion of fans who call themselves Nerdfighters who have their own hand signs. They’ll also tell you to give some props to John Green’s brother Hank Green. What’s going on with John Green is more than just an awesome tearjerker of a YA novel and movie, it’s a movement.

Years before TFIOS was fully even conceived, John and Hank Green were tearing up the internet and building a following with their funny, enlightened, and extremely smart YouTube videos. Initially called Brotherhood 2.0, the goal was to communicate with each other only through videos for the entirety of 2007 and attempt to build a small community. However, the community of fans that formed were much bigger and more engaged than they ever dreamed. John was already an author, and had a small readership, but both the videos and his books started to cross-promote each other.

John Green describes a nerfighter as someone who “Instead of being made of bones and skin and tissue, is made entirely of awesome.” Hank clarifies that nerdfighters DO NOT fight nerds, but are in fact decidedly pro-nerd. A major activity of Nerdfighters is fighting “world suck” through charity activities and just bonding together and “being awesome” as a community.

The term actually started as a joke when John filmed one of his videos in front of an arcade game that looks like it said “Nerdfighters,” but actually said “Aero Fighters.” He thought nerd fighter was a funny word, and like a lot of inside jokes, it ended up sticking.

John Green’s fan base didn’t get epic until 2012, when he published <em>The Fault in Our Stars, which was greatly inspired by a friendship he struck with a real Nerdfighter he met while attending a Harry Potter convention.

If you plan to be a true Nerdfighter, you need to know the “initialism” DFTBA that stands for “Don’t Forget To Be Awesome.” Being a Nerdfighter has no qualifications. John Green says, “If you want to be a nerd fighter, you are a nerdfighter.” To learn more about nerdfighting, check out the website dedicated to it, and the Vlogbrothers Youtube channel. Nerdfighters also have a “gang sign,” which is where you make both of your hands into a Vulcan salute and then cross your arms (like they’re doing above.)

Before even the Vlogbrothers and Nerdfighting, John Green was in divinity school, but he dropped out after some time as a hospital chaplain. Now he’s definitely touching a lot more lives through his books and videos. Speaking of that, an adaptation of another one of his books Paper Towns, is already in the works, and it’s set to star Nat Wolff, who’s also in TFIOS movie.

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