After "The Fault in Our Stars" released its first promotional poster Wednesday, it was hard to hear much of anything over the roaring, throbbing clamor of our feelings. But after all the noisy weeping stopped, another sound could be heard: the indignant cry of the internet, going, "Um. That tagline?"
The poster, which features young couple Hazel (Shailene Woodley) and Gus (Ansel Elgort) in a sweet yin-yang embrace, also contained a sardonic double entendre: a promotional tagline reading, "One sick love story." And while audiences are head over heels for the first official look at the cancer-stricken lovers of "The Fault in Our Stars," the tagline is proving divisive among fans who can't seem to agree on whether it's delightfully witty or grossly distasteful... Or both.
At VH1, reporter Kate Spencer confessed that she'd initially been put off by the line, but then praised it for capturing the "gallows humor" that she says was not just an integral part of the book, but of her own experience as a twenty-something watching her mother die of cancer.
Less conflicted was Erin Strecker at EW, who wrote, "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."
Meanwhile, exasperated defenses have also begun to spring up. One such piece on Crushable is titled, simply, "People Complaining About The 'Offensive' The Fault In Our Stars Tagline Didn't Read The Book."
But the most authoritative word on the controversy so far has come from author John Green, who wrote the novel upon which the movie is based, and who weighed in with his support for the line, all while clarifying for fans that he was not responsible for writing it:
"I found it dark and angry in the same way that Hazel is (at least at times) dark and angry in her humor," he wrote, in response to an anonymous question submitted to his Tumblr. "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."
And while Green acknowledged that he might be wrong in interpreting the tagline as affirming, not offensive, he also made note of another unusual element of the poster which everyone can feel good about.
"[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," he wrote, "And I'm thrilled they put her face -- and her cannula -- on the poster."
"The Fault In Our Stars" hits theaters on June 6, 2014.