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Countless young readers are starstruck by the works of John Green. David Pogue has a profile of the author of the best-selling novel, "The Fault in Our Stars," and a leader in the NerdFighters movement.
John: Let's get right too it. "Will you do sharpie face?" Yeah, I guess, but only for the answers.

Narrator (David Pogue): His videos on YouTube have been viewed 1.5 billion times. His latest book has been a New York Times Best Seller for 123 weeks. His live appearances sell out in minutes, and you've probably never heard of him, but your teenager probably has.

His name is John Green, 36 years old, married father of 2, and cult hero to millions of young people.

He has written four books, including his biggest best seller, The Fault in our Stars.


Augustus: What's your name?

Hazel: Hazel. Why are you staring at me?

Augustus: 'Cause you're beautiful.

Hazel: (Laughs)

Narrator: The movie version is about to open.

Hazel: I am quite unextraordinary.

Augustus: I reject that out of hand.

John: This is where I saw the movie with my wife, Sarah. It was just the two of us alone in the theater and it was so romantic.

Interviewer: What was your reaction? Was it the same as the other movie goers, or?

John: (laughs) no, er no, 'cause I started crying during the opening credits.

(interviewer laughs)

John: um-

Narrator: John green's own story began in Orlando, Florida.

Interviewer (also David Pogue): What kind of kid were you?

John: I was kind of a rule-breaker. I was kind of trouble.

Interviewer: I'm astonished!

John: I know, I feel real bad. I want to have been a- but it's nice for me to draw on a lot, because I was a troubled kid, and I was anxious and depressive and I felt very socially isolated at times. But I was still intellectually curious.

Narrator: Then came Kenyan college, a brief enrollment in divinity school and a job at a children's hospital in Chicago, as student chaplain.

John: When I was at the hospital, I met all of these young people who, yes they were sick, but they were also many other things. They were funny and angry and sad, and they had all of the emotion that any other human has, all the desire, all the wishes. And that was what really resonated with me.

Narrator: Green spent years trying to turn his hospital experience into a book. In the mean time, he published three other novels.

(shows a clip of a video)

Esther: Three years ago, in 2006, a few days before thanksgiving, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

Narrator: Then, in 2008, he met Esther Earl.

Esther: I love my friends. My friends are amazing, the ones I've met online.

Narrator: A fellow YouTube video maker who had thyroid cancer.

Esther: Yeah, I don't know!

Narrator: Met her, befriended her and was changed by her.

Esther: I... love... you, John.

Narrator: She died in 2010.

John: It's not fair that Esther died. I am angry that she was sick, I am angry that she suffered as long as she did, but her life had meaning. And understanding that was very important to me finally being able to write the story.

Hazel: I believe we have a choice in this world, about how to tell sad stories.

Narrator: That story is the Fault in our Stars.

Hazel: This is the truth. Doctors appointments.

Narrator: It's a funny and unsentimental book about two teenagers who meet in a cancer support group and fall in love.

Augustus: I'm Augustus Waters. I've been in remission for about a year and a half.

Patrick: Maybe you'd like to share some of your fears with the group.

Augustus: Oblivion.

Narrator: The book became a sensation, as my panel of hardcore Green fans made clear.

Narrator: So, if you're trying to explain to an adult about Fault in our Stars and why you love it, isn't the reaction going to be "but dude, it's a cancer book, I'm not gonna read that!"

Interviewee 1: It's not about cancer.

(everyone laughs)

Interviewee 2: It's a part of the book but it's not what it's about. It's really just this love story between two normal teenagers that just so happen to have a really terrible disease.

Random person: I love the book.

John: Aw, thank you so much! And thanks for reading it already!

Narrator: Green has sold over seven million copies of the book, but millions of fans know him not just as John Green, author-

John: No matter your circumstances, you are valuable and rare and worthy of love!

Narrator: They also know him as John Green, YouTube celebrity.

John: Good morning Hank, it's Tuesday March 11th!

Narrator: In 2007, he and his brother Hank-

Hank: Good morning, John! We like to have-

Narrator: -began exchanging public video messages as a way of keeping in touch.

John: Good morning Hank, it's Tuesday.

Narrator: and they've never stopped.

Introducer: John and Hank Green! (audience applauds)

Narrator: Fans of John and Hank have become a tightly knit community with their own inside jokes. For starters, they call themselves Nerdfighters.

Interviewee 3: I have a tattoo. A nerdfighter tattoo!

Narrator: Is it in a place that we can show on television?

Interviewee 3: Yeah! (everyone laughs)

Narrator: Can you show me?

Interviewee 3: Yeah! (shows the tattoo)

Narrator: Wow! (everyone laughs) Nerdfighter indeed!

Narrator: Okay, and how about this acronym? DFTBA?

Everyone: Don't forget to be awesome!

Narrator: It's just like a, you know? Live long and prosper thing?

Everyone: Yeah, that's half the- there it is! (Someone shows the sign)

(everyone laughs)

Narrator: There's a hand motion?!

Narrator: The nerdfighters insist that they are not a cult.

John: The 2013 project for awesome! Huzzah!

Narrator: But the Green brothers do marshal their army of followers into action for charity.

John: We have this big project called project for awesome, which is kind of a forty-eight hour long YouTube telethon every year. This year I think we raised about eight hundred thousand dollars.

Narrator: He does have the occasional detractor. He's been accused of romanticizing illness. But most people have nothing but nice things to say about his writing, including the stars of the movie, Laura Dern, Ansel Elgort and Shailene Woodley.

Shailene: And I sat down with Fox and I was like listen, I would love to audition for Hazel. If I'm right for the role, I'm right for the role. If I'm not then that's fine, somebody else is better. But you need to like, please make this movie.

Narrator: Do you feel any greater pressure when you show up on the set knowing that you're sustaining the hopes and dreams of all these people who don't want you to mess up their book?

Laura: We didn't need anybody else's pressure because we already, each of us, were the obsessed fan, the minute we found the book.

Narrator: A movie of another John Green novel is already in the works - Paper Towns.

Fan: Can I hug you?

John: Yeah!

(they hug)

Fan: Thank you!

John: Yeah, thank you!

Narrator: Green gives the credit not to his own talent, but to his readers.

Narrator: We are led to believe that teenagers have their faces behind screens, they're anti-social now, they don't care about the world-

John: (nods) they're disengaged, they don't read, they don't ugh-. It's just not true. I mean, that's what our parents said about us, that's what their parents said about them. It's always been untrue, it's still untrue. Yes, they're learning in different ways, but they are still learning, they are still reading, they are still thoughtful. And I am inspired every day by their intellectual curiosity.