Thursday, April 22, 2010

John Green Book Signing April 22nd Borders in Indianapolis, IN

"15 minutes worth of people"

That is the phrase that ran through my head as I drove back on Allisonville, smelling bacon at 8:30pm, from the book reading/signing that John Green and David Levithan had for their book, Will Grayson/Will Grayson. This is not a dis, this is a compliment. Andy Warhol once said in the future everybody would be famous for 15 minutes. Because of the internet and the amazing depth of fandom combined with little breadth, people can be famous to 15 minutes worth of people. Not that only 15 mins worth of people showed up, but that the pscyhotic level of fandom that Warhol associated with being famous back in his day (true adoration) in a smaller dose. The level of devotion from the fans present was something I would expect from a boy band crowd. Teenage girls that knew details of the author's life, knew everything about the books and the internet stuff, had homemade t-shirts, had 5 books for the author to sign, squealed with delight as if 1999 NSync was performing. This is an author of young adult books. Good from what I hear, but still, this is not Tolstoy coming to Indianapolis.

Yes, I have never read his work. I have watched some Youtube clips of his, and been impressed by his insight and entertained by his humor. I will probably breakdown and read whatever book of his that my cousin recommends. I got a book signed for my cousin, which was why I suffered through the teen girl nerd fest. Hipsters in the making. Some fatties too who had to text at every chance. God forbid they just enjoy the event. He has great patience to put up with a fanbase that matches up with Twilight. I tip my cap to him.

This was the 2nd reading I have been to, with Toni Morrison being the first. Much more enjoyable this time. Toni Morrison reading poems about womanhood, slavery, racism, being ugly etc. is quite powerful but quite depressing. John Green and David Levithan, who wrote Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, did readings in a mock play form. Entertaining, and especially nice with a real gay guy reading the gay part. The author's references to Joyce's Ulysses or David Foster Wallace and Infinite Jest made me laugh inside as those notes had to have flown over the heads of most of the crowd. They then took questions, training these young women for future Q&As with female angst author's in several years. Side note: David Levithan looks like Fred Armisen with longer hair. He has to know this. It is an amazing doppelganger duo. Because I got there so early, I got to be 15th in line or so. I managed to get a laugh as I said "I feel like I'm on a Chris Hanson To Catch a Predator episode". I also joked with Levithan to give him some love as it was obvious he was the sidekick tonight from the psychotic show of fandom for Mr. Green present.

I tip my cap to Mr. Green as he has carved out his niche through his books and incredibly hard efforts online. The man has built his fervent fanbase from his antics, rants and online discussions. He has created a community online, which is fantastic for a built in audience of readers. Smart marketing to keep fans involved and aware of your nuggets of thought in between the 2-5 years it takes to create, research and finish a book. It reminds me of the vlogging Imogen Heap did for her new album that kept my wife entertained each week. it it wonderful to see someone who gains a following from good work, hard work, and word of mouth. It feels organic and true. Being surrounded by his creepy, devoted fans actually made the experience more enoyable because he was in his element with a home crowd. i wish him the best of luck with the new book and hopefully creating enough of a following to not have to work a day job.


Whitney said...

...Matthew, you're a fine, fine cousin.

I'm so glad you at least have SOME level of understanding and appreciation for John Green & what he's created online - your post doesn't address it directly, but the number of people who specifically identify as Nerdfighters has become MASSIVE since he and Hank first created the concept years ago, and Nerdfighters themselves as a group are extraordinarily impressive - among the most brilliant, clever, talented, successful people I've ever had the privilege to meet online - and as I've been rabidly involved with online fandoms since the age of 10 & my standards for determining who matches up to the above descriptions are near-impossibly high, that's saying a lot. Most are creators in their own right, and more than half are male. Not sure why your signing was apparently overwhelmed with female hipsters and people who look like they would be Twilight fans, because that's not representative of who his readership (or targeted audience, for that matter) is at all.

And just a little FYI - you would do very very poorly to assume the kind of teens who read and enjoy John Green are even remotely similar to those who read and enjoy Twilight. I absolutely guarantee you that 90% of the teens in attendance fully register, comprehend, and appreciate DFW & Joyce references, and are entirely capable of dropping them themselves. You'd be an idiot to ever underestimate the knowledge scope of teen Nerdfighters.

P.S. As Erica wouldn't have even heard of John Green if not for me (love you darling), take my rec (which she would, I presume, undoubtedly back me up on in any case): read Looking for Alaska. Immediately.

Son of Brock Landers said...

I'll wait for erica's rec, and if different, i'll just read both to break up my history reading.

I have no clue what his target audience is but as he said the venn diagram of his fans and glee fans form an almost perfect circle. The crowd did have some young men, but was overwhelmingly teen girl.

I doubt the audience got the leopold bloom and DFW references as one of the questions was why Green used a certain phrase which he said was straight from Infinite Jest, and no one, i repeat no one, but the middle aged woman to my right laughed at the leopold bloom joke. Might be just the Indy JG fans.

Whitney said...

Oh hey I forgot about this.
In response to the ask box stuff:

* I will now only refer to Erica & Kenny as 'avant garde music snobs' thank you for that
* I don't think wizard rock bands have groupies (at least I hope not), that would be ridiculous
* Wizard rock will definitely be dying, if not dead, within two years; its peak was two years ago
* Tribute bands seem pointless to me, although I don't think I'd go so far as to call them pathetic. Whatever makes people happy, man
* Wrock definitely IS good, professional-quality music (if you're interested, check out Ministry of Magic; they're spectacular, the most popular wrock band, and a good intro to the genre -, but the point is that it's not just about the music: it's about building a community based on tolerance, acceptance, equality, and love - themes I don't think tribute bands typically strive for
* I like the 15 minutes idea a lot
* Yes, original thought is super fun (...?)
* Read a John Green book