The new poster for The Fault in our Stars has gotten some mixed reactions due to the tagline. The image depicts stars Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort sharing a happy moment together in the grass as lead characters Hazel and Augustus, two teens fighting cancer. The tubes hooked up to Woodley’s nose are the barely-subtle indication that all is not entirely well for her character, health-wise. But to drive the subject matter home, the tagline included under the title says "One Sick Love Story." Is it in bad taste or are we misreading the tone? Author John Green comes to the defense of the phrase, saying he didn't write it but he likes it.
In addition to sharing the poster, BuzzFeed also shared an update from Green on the reaction to the "One Sick Love Story" tagline, which seems like it would be more suitable for a comedy, not a tale of two teens falling in love while fighting cancer. But Green disagrees, as he said on his Tumblr. Though he says he didn't write the tagline, he does like it:
1. I did not write the tag line. To the many of you who love it, I say, "I did not write the tag line." To the many of you who don’t, I say, "I did not write the tag line."
2. These things are not my decision. It’s not my movie, or my poster. I don’t know how to make movies or movie posters.
3. That said, I like the tag line. I found it dark and angry in the same way that Hazel is (at least at times) dark and angry in her humor. I mostly wanted something that said, "This is hopefully not going to be a gauzy, sentimental love story that romanticizes illness and further spreads the lie that the only reason sick people exist is so that healthy people can learn lessons." But that’s not a very good tag line. I like the tag line because it says, literally, the sick can also have love stories. Love and joy and romance are not just things reserved for the well.
3a. That said, I might be wrong. I’m wrong all the time.
I don’t know if Green’s response makes the tagline work any better. Given the purpose of a tagline, I’m thinking if it needs to be explained, it’s probably not working. But the imagery certainly does the trick regardless, which counts for a lot, and what Green says makes sense.
I should probably admit that I've been avoiding reading this book for a while now, and the fact that Green's response to the tagline inspired a tearful reaction from me is pretty much exactly why I've been dragging my feet on this one, despite all the positive buzz the novel has gotten. With that said, last night while I was shuffling aimlessly through Target like a zombie who's programmed to want to shop despite having finished my Christmas shopping weeks ago, I picked up a copy of Green’s novel, hunched awkwardly over my shopping cart and read the first two pages on a whim. I was hooked enough from that partial introduction to go home and buy the Kindle (eBook) version, so it’s officially on my short list of to-read books. In the meantime, Fox has Josh Boone’s feature adaptation lined up for a June release, and this poster is one of our first official looks at the promotional content for this potentially heartbreaking story headed to theaters next year.