On his Tumblr account, FishingBoatProceeds, John Green touched on the complaints that have been seen online regarding the new “Metaphor” clip that was revealed at the MTV Movie Awards. The complaints, which center around the pretentiousness of Augustus Waters in the movie, seem somewhat odd considering that this quote is in the book:
ISAAC: “Augustus Waters talked so much that he’d interrupt you at his own funeral. And he was pretentious: Sweet Jesus Christ, that kid never took a piss without pondering the abundant metaphorical resonances of human waste production.”
So, it’s pretty much a given that Gus is a pretentious character – it’s right there in the book itself. Personally, I appreciate all different types of characters in novels, reading about perfect people without flaws would get pretty boring. Check out John Green’s response to the question received on his Tumblr account below:
I’ve been seeing a lot of people talk about Gus sounding really pretentious in the movie, do you think he sounds pretentious?
JOHN GREEN: I mean, that scene is word-for-word from the book, so don’t blame the movie! Yes, Gus is super pretentious at the start of the story. it’s a character flaw.
Gus wants to have a big and important and remembered life, and so he acts like he imagines people who have such lives act. So he’s, like, says-soliloquy-when-he-means-monologue pretentious, which is the most pretentious variety of pretension in all the world.
And then his performative, over-the-top, hyper-self-aware pretentiousness must fall away for him to really connect to Hazel, just as her fear of being a grenade must fall away. That’s what the novel is about. That is its plot.
Gus must make the opposite of the traditional heroic journey—he must start out strong and end up weak in order to reimagine what constitutes a rich and well-lived life.
Basically, a 20-second clip from the first five minutes of a movie is not the movie.
(Standard acknowledgement here that I might be wrong, that I am inevitably defensive of TFIOS, that it has many flaws, that there’s nothing wrong with critical discussion, and that a strong case could be made that I should not insert myself into these conversations at all.)