Since launching their first YouTube channel on January 1, 2007, vloggers John and Hank Green have amassed one of the Web’s most passionate fanbases. Affectionately known as “Nerdfighters,” these followers have grown into a thriving community both on and off-line, drawn together by a love of knowledge, a desire to spread goodwill, and an adherence to their hallowed mantra “Don’t Forget to be Awesome!”
And if humanitarianism is any measure of awesomeness, they’re in no danger of forsaking this noble pledge. Under the leadership of the Foundation to Decrease World Suck (managed in part by the Greens themselves), Nerdfighters have helped raise millions for various charities in an annual philanthropy drive dubbed the “Project for Awesome” (P4A).
The movement’s also recruited more than a few celebrities into its ranks, such as athletes, scientists, and statesmen. Here are five of the planet’s most famous Nerdfighters.
1. Wil Wheaton
When he’s not busy tormenting Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory, Wheaton’s been known to give Nerdfighteria some well-deserved shout-outs. The Star Trek veteran even chose to recite John’s ode to nerdiness at the 2011 Penny Arcade Expo, as you can see in this clip.
2. Jennifer Pinches
Pinches performed on behalf of her native Great Britain during 2012 Summer Olympics’ women’s artistic gymnastics finals, helping the squad claim its best placement in 80 years. How did she celebrate afterwards? By flashing the Nerdfighter salute on international television. “I got quite a lot of followers on Twitter because of it,” Pinches said, “and people were confused as to what it meant. What was it … a scary gang sign or something?”
A Vlogbrothers fan, Pinches did her part to decrease World Suck that autumn when she retired from gymnastics to pursue, among other things, volunteer work in Ecuador. In her own words, the V-shaped gesture signifies “Being … part of a community, being happy, and yeah, don’t forget to be awesome.”
3. Charlie McDonnell
With a palpable fondness for science, music, and Doctor Who, McDonnell’s one of the internet’s most successful video bloggers. Charity is a subject about which McDonnell is equally passionate, and the star has graciously lent his celebrity to a number of disease research and anti-poverty efforts around the world, some in conjunction with the P4A. Be sure to check out his epic interview with Hank Green here.
4. Neil DeGrasse Tyson
“Not only do we live among the stars, the stars live within us," Tyson once said with typical eloquence. And just when you thought the infinitely-quotable astrophysicist couldn’t get any cooler, it turns out he’s also a Nerdfighter to boot, having proudly described himself as “a fan of the cause.”
5. Barack Obama
The President did his best to court the coveted Nerdfighter vote last February during a Google-sponsored fireside hangout. Towards the end of the live-streaming event, John and his wife Sarah “The Yeti” Green announced that they were expecting a second child and asked the commander-in-chief to state his preference between the names Alice and Eleanor. Obama politely declined, but brought down the house when he added, “tell either Eleanor or Alice not to forget to be awesome.”
When baby Alice was born four months later, John tweeted the President to let him know he’d done just that.