UPDATE: 'The Fault in Our Stars': We need to talk about that tagline

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The poster for the film you’re going to sob your way through come June is here.

The first look at The Fault in Our Stars promo art has arrived (see it above) and depicts stars Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort lying on the grass face to face, young and in love. It’s all very sad and bittersweet and exactly how it should be; I particularly love that the studio isn’t shying away from showing Woodley with the oxygen tubes. Things were pretty dang perfect until I read the tagline: “One sick love story.”

Wait, what? That’s awfully glib for a film that’s going to depict the story of two teenagers who meet at a cancer support group and are dying. While I obviously get that taglines need to be quick and quip-y, this seems a little bit too far, right? There’s smart and then there’s groan-worthy. Should we all be looking forward to cancer puns as this movie’s promotion really gets going? Is a first trailer with “Was my stomach doing flip-flops because of Augustus or my cancer meds?” next?

Particularly because it’s based on a such a beloved, popular, zeitgeist-y novel, it seems a bit of a missed opportunity to not have the tagline be one of the big lines from John Green’s book. While fan-favorite “Okay? Okay” doesn’t really work because it doesn’t make much sense to anyone who hasn’t read the book (What are you possibly waiting for?!), I would have loved to see something like, “I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once,” alongside the same picture.

But on the other hand I do think “One Sick Love Story,” is in line with the kind of goofy gallows humor that both the lead characters deploy throughout the story. It shocked me a little bit, and that’s likely what the marketing people wanted. And as I’m writing this out, it’s definitely growing on me. I guess I’m just going to have to watch all the trailers, movie clips and finally the film a bunch of times to really make an informed final decision about my feelings.

UPDATE: Green updated his Tumblr with his thoughts about the tagline. He writes, in part, “‘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.'”

Later, Green expands, noting, “I found [the tagline] 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.”

What do you think of the tagline? Vote below.



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