As readers of my recent Facebook page re-postings have already learned, the Internet rabbit-hole I’ve been exploring most recently is a site called vlogbrothers.
Montana-based Hank Green is, among other things, a musician; his brother John Green, who lives in Indiana, is, among other things, a writer whose bestselling novel The Fault in Our Stars is being made into a now-much-anticipated-by-me movie that will be released next year.
Somehow these two very busy people found the time and energy to begin routinely (about once a week, I think?) exchanging with each other – and, through the magic of the Internet, with us fellow Internet users – their videoed rants (or occasionally in Hank’s case, songs) about a multitude of topics.
However, when I’m watching/marveling at John’s or Hank’s videos, I don’t feel like either of them is ranting. Rants are what Rush Limbaugh does. Hank’s and John’s videos are more like – well, it’s difficult for me to desribe them. For me, these videos are hugely enjoyable and hugely edifying manic astonishments.
What John and Hank do is seize upon some single (and usually vexing or mysterious-to-most-of-us) fragment of our complicated universe – some poorly understood scientific factoid, say, or some war on the other side of the globe that the United States government has mired itself in or is currently slouching toward.
Then Hank or John suddenly hurls in your general direction a torrent of heretofore largely unreported/ undereported/ poorly reported-by-the-mass-media concentrated bits of intelligence and/or gratifying strands of common sense.
Every vlogbrothers video that I’ve selected to watch quickly grabs – and holds my complete attention. Within seconds, I consistently find myself smiling, and then laughing, and then thinking harder than usual about whatever John or Hank has chosen to talk about. Then, for the umteenth time, I realize how extraordinarily talented – and entertaining – these guys are at tackling complex subjects.
Their videos are cogent, succinct, information-rich commentaries on topics ranging from mass media news stories (or pseudo-stories) to social issues to scientific data or scientific theory to sundry the odd personal obsession.
Both Greens are indisputably intelligent, creative, articulate – and hilarious. But be warned: they both talk very, very fast, and pack a lot o’ information (laced with exquisite sarcastic asides) into always-exhuberant, gesticulation-saturated videos.
My own conversion from never-heard-of-these-guys to vblogbrothers fanboy happened through watching a semi-random sample of their giant collection of the videos they’ve made so far.
Instead of in the reverse chronological order you that you’ll find them displayed at YouTube’s vlogbrothers channel), here’s the order in which I came upon the ones I’ve watched so far:
John’s Why Are Americans’ Health Care Costs So High?
Hank’s presentation of intriguing maps – 42 of the dang things crammed into less than four minutes of video:
Hank’s 17 Rants in 4 Minutes:
Hank’s Syria in Five Minutes:
Hank’s 17 Air Travel Tips:
John’s Why Does Congress Suck?
Hank’s What is The Strongest Force on Earth?
Hank’s North Korea: Explained
Hank’s Why The Rich Pay Lower Taxes
Of course, I adored John’s oh-so-sensible Religion and Gay Marriage:
And here’s Hank, equally cogent (and equally entertaining) on that same issue:
In addition to watching these vlogbrothers videos, I’ve also watched another batch of videos John has been making about the fascinating and moving process of filming The Fault in Our Stars; taken as a whole, they transformed my notion of John from simply being Obviously An Amazing Guy to the higher status of One of Cal’s Favorite Living Americans.
Then there are the two videos Hank made that convinced me he, like his brother John, is a thoroughly decent person, and, also like John, is among the best as well as among the brightest of American citizens:
The day after a disturbed 20-year-old Connecticut male with access to his mom’s high-powered automatic rifle killed his mother and then walked in to Sandtown Elementary School and massacred twenty children, six adults, and, finally, himself, Hank posted this video:
The second video Hank made that testifies to Hank’s generosity and insightfulness is this delightful burst of free association:
Fortunately for you and me, there are dozens of vblogbrother videos still to watch.
Incidentally, each brother also posts frequently to his separate Tumblr site: Hank’s is here, and John’s is here. And here’s a quickie history of the phenomenon of the Green brothers’s video bllogging project:
It’s because of creations like Hank’s and John’s videos that I feel lucky and grateful to be alive during the infancy of the Internet – and financially able to afford Internet access. Whatever else the Internet is or becomes, it provides a platform where creative and intelligent and hilarious people like these guys can share their heartfelt enthusiasms and helpful explanations of a complicated, annoying, dangerous, and exciting world with literally millions of appreciative fellow world-dwellers.
I also must credit the much-maligned Facebook for facilitating my discovery of the Green brothers. It was a Facebook friend’s posting of one of John’s videos that served as the portal to all the other ones.
After you thank me for bringing to your attention the vlogbrother videos, I’d love to hear from you about your own most startling and/or helpful Internet discoveries. Despite the thousand of hours I’ve spent surfing the Internet both before and after my retirement six months ago, entire regions of this vast digital resource remain completely unexplored by me; I’d love your help – as well as Mr. Google’s and Mr. Bing’s – in more efficiently unearthing the Internet’s treasures.
Meanwhile, as I discover them, I’ll continue posting to the sidebar of my blog various links to my favorite Interent sites, and from time to devoting entire blogposts to sites I particularly enjoy or otherwise benefit from.
If you’ll glance over at my blogroll – if you can find it over there underneath all those comments about the books I’m reading when I’m not surfing the Internet – you’ll notice that I’ve duly installed a hyperlink to vlogbrothers in the “Enthralling Personal Blogs” category. I’d be surprised if many of you don’t add vlogbrothers to your list of Internet favorites (or, if you blog, to your own blogroll). Yep, you could do that.
June 3, 2014 Postscript: The June 9th issue of the New Yorker features an article by Margaret Talbot about John Green, coinciding with the premiere of the movie version of John’s book The Fault in Our Stars.