Friday, 25 February 2011

Don't Forget To Be Awesome

So, I've heard on occasion in the past about Nerdfighters and the Vlogbrothers and how cool they are, and I finally decided to investigate them properly by watching the videos about a week and a half ago. Maybe two weeks.
The whole thing started with Brotherhood 2.0, which was when, for the entire year of 2007, brothers Hank and John Green decided they would not communicate textually, but would upload video blogs to youtube every other weekday and talk to each other that way (Video chat, phonecalls and in person communication were also permitted). Also sometimes they would set each other challenges, or decide to do projects (Later on the projects were assisted by the viewers), and if they missed a day, textually communicated with each other, or broke any other rules which may have been instated (Such as a 4 minute maximum length on videos not containing some sort of cool montage), they had to do some sort of punishment, chosen by the other brother. And of course it had to be something which would be amusing to watch on the vlog.

I made a video to start off talking about this, but it must be preceded by three more explanations:

1. Nerdfighters
Nerdfighters was an arcade game the brothers came across (Particularly John). Being rather nerdy people, they decided to play it, and then started wondering about the title - do nerdfighters fight for or against nerds? The answer, they concluded, was for.
And thus the term entered the internet lexicon. A nerdfighter, they explain, is a person who, instead of the normal blood and tissue and so on, is in fact made of pure awesome.
A more easily observed definition is that a nerdfighter is someone who is a nerd and proud of it, and who is potentially willing to fight for nerd-dom, and to decrease World Suck.
It is also explained in this vlogbrothers video.

2. The Evil Baby Orphanage
An idea conceived during May of Brotherhood 2.0, the Evil Baby Orphanage is intended to solve the ethical dilemma of whether one should travel back in time and kill baby Hitler, thus preventing World War II and the holocaust. Understandably, many people have compuctions about killing babies, no matter how evil they may be going to grow up to be. So instead, one merely kidnaps the evil babies and puts them in the Evil Baby Orphanage.

3. Happy dances
Your happy dance is the dance you do when you're really happy. Supposedly everyone has one which is unique to them, though I am not entirely certain if this is the case.

Without further ado, here is the video I made.

(If you missed the link in the video to the tetris song, it is also here)

A point which I was thinking of mentioning in the video but then completely forgot about when I was recording it is that watching through Brotherhood 2.0 also made me think a little about whether there is anything I could do to decrease World Suck. Do something good for the world n' stuff. This generally ties into the "What do I want?" thing again, wanting to do something with my life. Another idea linked to this is brought up in Terry Pratchett's Unseen Academicals, of accumulating worth (By doing good things). I'm going to have to write a blog post about that book at some point. Or at least part of a blog post.

Back to specific thoughts while watching the videos. I noticed at some point in February that there's a typo in the introduction. "365 days of textless communcation." This was eventually acknowledged in a Q&A video quite late on, and corrected for the final video of the year.

On the 25th of June, Hank talked about the difference between books for children and books for adults, and the fact that he often prefers the former, because he felt adult books tended to be more realistic while children's books tended to be more fun.
Now I can see where he's coming from with that. Certainly the kind of pure unadulterated fun escapism sort of stuff, yeah that's largely in the domain of children's books rather than adult ones. But I feel realism is not to be denigrated. Stories can be more relatable if they're more realistic. And while books for adults may be less full of pure unadulterated fun than books for children, there are other things which matter and can be very moving. Intellectual stimulation. Pathos. This sort of thing.
This reminds me a bit of a TV program my dad was watching a little while back, which I caught some of, about crying - the fact that some people hardly ever cry and don't see why one would most of the time, whereas for others it can be a very important element of human experience. One point brought up was whether sometimes people might e.g. watch a sad film because they felt they 'needed a good cry', as a sort of catharsis. Now that I don't understand so much. I think that anything which would make me feel I really needed to cry would in fact make me cry, no additional stimulus required. Though I could understand then watching sad films or whatever to continue sort of wallowing in my sadness.
But what I really get is something which I think makes me very unusual. I once saw an online discussion of a poll on people's favourite episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in which some episodes widely regarded as being very good didn't make the list. And someone in the discussion made the distinction between episodes one thinks are really good and one's favourite episodes, the point being that sad episodes like The Body, while obviously very good, do not necessarily qualify as favourites because you wouldn't be so inclined to rewatch them over and over as they can be a bit emotionally draining. Thing is, I don't necessarily feel that way. I will rewatch emotionally draining episodes multiple times because I really like them. They just really get to me like that.
For another sort fo example, Shakespeare. I love Shakespeare, but in particular, my favourites are the tragedies. There's a Sandman comic set in Shakespeare's time in which Shakespeare's daughter, quoting her mother, says that perhaps Shakespeare would have been more successful if he'd written nothing but comedies. Now that may well be the case - the comedies probably had more mass appeal, certainly at the time he was writing them - but there are other things which are important, which one can get from the tragedies, so that I am very glad Shakespeare did write them.

Speaking of Shakespeare, Shakespearian insults. I mentioned in the video that I do like Shakespearian insults, and I just thought I'd add that there is one point in The Grand Duke when we all yell at the main character, Ludwig. So I've been calling him a whoreson knave. I don't know if that's an actual Shakespearian insult, but it sounds like one. And we're meant to be actors, so it makes sense as well.

Another bit which caught my attention when I watched it was Hank's video on the 13th of August, when he went to a fair. It struck me that our views on fairs were pretty similar. Last time I went to a fair (2nd of May, 2009), I loved it. But I felt that many of the rides were a bit crazy and there was no way I was going on them. I mostly just loved the atmosphere of it.

On October the 25th and the 30th (A very good date), John and Hank (I think it was that way round) investigated their respective boxes containing things from their childhood. This makes me curious about whether or not I and my brother have such boxes, and if so, what is in them.
I can't remember very much of my really early childhood, before we moved up here. Just snippets, and I'd be curious to know what else there was.

On the 17th of December, 2007, the nerdfighters took over youtube. Pretty impressive community they have there. This was the 'Special Project for Awesome', and I am certainly in awe of it.

Final thing: The above linked and in-video linked tetris song was the result of John setting Hank a challenge to write songs and perform one every time he posted a Brotherhood 2.0 video on a wednesday. So, there are many other songs, including one about Harry Potter, written a few days before Deathly Hallows was released, that became one of the most viewed videos on youtube around that time, and various others on topics as diverse as hot weather, love, birthdays and the Special Project for Awesome.
Since Brotherhood 2.0 finished, there have been less songs, but still some, including two which caught my attention so far (I'm still in the process of watching through the videos). One about how humans are really just monkeys with pants (Which makes me think of Science of Discworld, we are pan narrans after all), and one about Star Trek, entitled 'What Would Captain Picard Do?'

And, that's all I can think of to say right now, particularly since I really need to be going shortly to get to the theatre for the next performance of The Grand Duke. Also I have to extricate myself from a visiting cat from two houses down the street, who has been inconveniencing my typing by walking back and forth across my lap, and now is curled up on top of me.

Don't Forget To Be Awesome.

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