Feral Friday - Marketing Material Controversy: The Fault In Our Stars

It’s Feral Friday! And we here at Book Nerd Reviews thought we would discuss a topic that really sends us feral.

Fans of The Fault in Our Stars have been eagerly awaiting any news regarding the movie that is due to be released in June 2014, and today they received payment for their patience, with the release of the first official poster for the movie.

And fans are divided… here is the poster, and below our personal opinions on the first official promotional material for The Fault in Our Stars movie.

This week, we’re talking about the poster that divided fans:

Kristy’s say:

I like it. I think it is fitting to the storyline, honours the characters and I think that it brave, bold and (although some strong disagree), I don’t believe it is inappropriate or insensitive.

There are 2 major important features to this movie poster. The first being the image, and the second being the tagline. So, I will address those separately.

The image: I love this image. I think that it is beautiful and sweet, but yet not romanticised. I loved the fact that the studio have done an amazing job at revealing the sweetness of this story, but they do not shy away from the fact that this is not some sappy Hollywood love story where everything is perfect. Hazel’s oxygen tubes are clearly visible, and I love that. It shows that there is something different and unique about this story, and that there are real issues involved, where the main storyline is not focused on a young couple where the biggest problem is that the girl has a male best friend who is love with her or paranormal creatures are trying to kill her. In general, I think this image is real, and shows the true emotion and storyline of The Fault in Our Stars.

The tagline: “One Sick Love Story”. Now, I will admit, that when I first saw that, I thought “WHAT? NO!”. But, within a few seconds, my mind started whirling around with different thoughts and I quickly decided that I liked it. To me, there are many aspects to this tagline, and I think this one is actually fitting of the storyline on many levels. Firstly, there is the bluntness: this is one aspect that I enjoyed about the book - Hazel and Gus don’t shy away from illness and reality - they stare their challenges in the face while dealing with them, and they don’t sugar-coat anything. Secondly, there could be a humorous side to it that both main characters would appreciate. And finally, it really depends on which words you focus on: if you focus on “one”, this shows that this is one story, that there are many stories out there that involve love, dedication and illness. If you focus on “sick”, well that would depend on if you take this literally or as slang, ie: you could take it literally as illness and that this story/movie focuses on illness, or you could take it as slang term and that it means cool, interesting or awesome. And finally, if you focus on the words “love story” then you get the true meaning of this tagline.

Basically, while the shock factor is there, I do like it. But I also understand why some would not. I think those who haven’t read the book would dislike it, as without thinking about the characters or storyline, this would seem inappropriate. And for those who have read it, well that camp is divided. Some feel that it fits perfectly, others think that it is extremely inappropriate, while others are withholding any judgement until they actually see the movie. However, I will say, I am disappointed they didn’t use a quote from the book as the tagline - out of all the wonderful things John Green wrote in The Fault in Our Stars, there was surely an appropriate, and meaningful quote, that could have been used instead.

John Green himself has said that while he had nothing to do with this tagline, he personally likes it. He believes this tagline fits the character of Hazel, by saying “I found it dark and angry in the same way that Hazel is (at least at times) dark and angry in her humor”. He also goes on to say “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.” I agree with John Green on this one, as to me this was an important message of The Fault in Our Stars (and I always thought that he was brave to write about this subject in such an honest and raw way).

John is also impressed with the image as well, we have very similar opinions on this matter “A major Hollywood studio released a movie poster in which the female romantic lead has visible evidence of her disability, which is damn near unprecedented, and I’m thrilled they put her face — and her cannula — on the poster.” Now that I come to think about it, it is rather unprecedented - other movies I can think of that involve illness as a focus don’t show too much of that in the promotional posters. Stepmom shows the main characters staring into the distance, Philadelphia shows close-ups of the main characters, of which Tom Hanks’ character seems to be in perfect health, Now is Good (the film adaptation of Before I Die) also shows the main character looking in good health. The only one that I can think of that came close was My Sisters Keeper - where it shows the young girl at the bottom blowing bubbles - but in saying that, she is wearing a beanie, so, without knowing the storyline, it could be just a girl wearing a beanie.

But, at the end of the day, like it or hate it, kudos must go the marketing people of The Fault in Our Stars movie - this tagline certainly has people talking (which at the end of the day, is their goal).

Also, for those of you who do like this poster, you can buy a copy of it from the Project For Awesome website for $25 USD, or a signed copy for $125 USD (signed by John Green). Profits from these sales go to Project For Awesome.

Melissa’s say:

I do believe my exact words when Kristy messaged me this picture was “One sick love story?! Really?!” To be honest, I think this is probably one of the first times Kristy and I have ever disagreed. Outright, I am going to say I completely respect everything Kristy has said, and in some cases I actually do agree with the points made.

But I am going to be really blunt here - I think it’s really tacky. I think it’s a little bit of shock and awe tactics, and I think John Green is such a good storyteller, that it seems like it’s cheapening the movie plot unnecessarily. That is my opinion anyways, which I realise probably won’t be popular with everyone.

The image, I adore. I think they nailed that 150%. I love everything about it. I love the affection and sweetness between Hazel and Gus without it being OTT. There’s a real tenderness and caring for each other shown in that picture, which is so on point when it comes to their relationship. I applaud the movie studio on including Hazel’s cannula on the poster as well.

The movie isn’t necessarily focusing solely on someone with cancer, it’s more a story about two people that fall in love (and one of them happens to have cancer). I think it was definitely the right decision to include it in the image as it clearly tells the potential viewer who hasn’t seen the trailer or read the book that this is a love story and the girl is sick - although the crass tagline will tell you that too. ;)

The tagline I think is really the polarising part of the movie poster. And I completely understand both sides to the argument to be honest. I agree that it’s actually something I could hear Hazel saying. But I think as a reader, we have that wonderful thing called context. We already love Hazel for her bluntness and for her personality throughout the novel. So when she’s angry or sarcastic, we get it and we understand where she’s coming from. Context is the big thing that the general average person looking at this poster is not going to get from a 4 word tagline. And whilst I don’t think it’s going to shatter the Earth into two pieces with it’s controversy, I do think it’ll continue to divide people.

Then again, what do they say in the media business? As long as it gets people talking, who cares? In the end, it’ll drive people to talk about the movie, and that is free publicity for the movie company - good luck to them! :)

The Fault In Our Stars opens on my 30th birthday too! June 6! Eeeeeee. :D I might just have to postpone the party to go and see this one…

What are your thoughts on the poster (image and tagline)? Let us know in your comments below!

What do you think?

  • Olgia says:

    I must say that I agree with Kristy. I love the tag line. I think that Hazel would have loved it.
    If I were looking at this without reading the book I probably wouldn’t like the tagline.
    Olgia recently posted…Read-A-Thon Day 11!My Profile

    • Kristy says:

      Although I can see why some would like this tagline while others would hate it, for those who haven’t read the book it would seem very blunt and inappropriate (as they cannot consider character personalities). But, at the end of the day, as long as the movie is good, I will be happy :)
      Kristy recently posted…2014 - A New ChapterMy Profile

  • Brook says:

    Hi guys!
    I have to say I completely agree with Kristy on this. The studio, in my opinion, did a great job of summing up TFiOS in one picture. I love the romantic yet not romanticized image, and the blunt, perfect fitting tag line, separately, but together they are dynamic. If you think about it, the studio that put this poster together consciously put a soft and tender image behind a hard and blunt tagline. I think it’s genius.

    • Kristy says:

      The picture is perfect - it captures the essence of the book, and of the relationship between Hazel and Guz. I think most people think the image is amazing, but the tagline is certainly causing controversy :)

  • Carolyn says:

    Firstly, I can’t believe you two actually disagree on something.

    Secondly I didn’t even notice the tag line until it was pointed out to me on twitter. I only looked at the rest of the picture but I like the tag line. I think it’s appropriate and funny

  • I absolutely love the image to this poster, because it definitely speaks to me of the sort of affection that exists between Gus and Hazel, which is all sweet and pure, but when I first saw the tagline, I have to admit that it made ME feel a little sick. I completely understand why John Green would like it, and I do see his point, but from an immediate standpoint, it’s just cheap and honestly a little offensive. So I dunno, maybe they should’ve used a different tagline, with a similar message (the one they were trying to convey at least, assuming it’s a good one!) :D

    • Kristy says:

      I think most people agree the image on the poster is a perfect reflection of the emotion from the book. The tagline however is a little bit different. As I have mentioned above, I personally don’t have an issue with it, but I am sure they could have found a better one by using a quote from the book.

  • Caitlin says:

    I thought I’d talk about the poster from my point of view, seeing as I am yet to read the book.
    The image, I think is just like you both said it to be- romantic without the obvious romance, but also gives off an air of sweetness and affection.
    I think it’s almost brave of the movie studio to include Hazel’s tubes, because it’s risky in that people will see this poster and find it disturbing. But they’ve managed to pull it off in such a way that it makes the two look even more unique.
    When I read the tagline at first, I found it a little jolting, but then I realised what it could mean in relation to the girls tubes and I quite liked the wording.
    So that’s what I thought of it :)

    • Kristy says:

      Hi Caitlin. Thanks for giving us your views on this poster, it is always good to hear what others think, but I think in this particular case the fact that you haven’t read the book gives us a perspective that us who have read it may not be able to see.
      I am glad that the sweetness and affection aspect did come across to those who don’t know the characters!
      I hope you enjoy the book and movie (if you are planning on reading it/watching it) :)

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