The Fault in Our Stars

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John Green talks the pretentiousness of Augustus Waters in ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ movie

April 18, 2014

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.)

What do you think about John Green’s statement?

Kimmy is a 22 year old nerdfighter and artist who is the founder and editor-in-chief of Page to Premiere. When she's not writing about books and movies here or on her Hunger Games site called, she loves creating original content at her magazine and production company JØLVIE, manically Tumblr-ing, eating sushi, drinking Thai iced tea, and being lazy with her cat Rue! She hopes to be a published author one day. You can follow her on Twitter at @kimmymary.

  • Danielle Lowry

    This is basically what ive been explaining to everyone.

  • Haley Keller

    It really annoys me that everyone seems to think characters need to be likeable all the time. They’re going to have flaws, and sometimes those flaws will be annoying. Just about everyone I know has annoying flaws, and some of them get on my nerves all the time. TFiOS is an amazing book, and even if you find Gus’s pretentiousness annoying, I don’t understand why you can’t still enjoy the story.

  • Darith L.

    Perfect answer.

  • Jordan

    Omg I could kiss your feet right now!
    I absolutely LOVE a book with flawed characters – sometimes it’s the only thing that keeps me reading them.
    Thank you for saying this

  • Alexandrea J.

    I agree with you that flawed characters make great characters. None of us are perfect and so it’s nice to see real people reflected in our books. :) I think the scene was perfect and I liked it a lot! :)

  • Caitlyn

    I agree completely with John, Gus is meant be that way, it’s his character, and as he said, it’s word for word from the book… It’s meant to be that way.

  • Jamie Ryu

    I think people that think that Augustus is too pretentious and are complaining about it should shut up and re-read the book. HE IS SUPPOSED TO BE PRETENTIOUS AND SORRY IF THAT BOTHERS YOU BUT NOT ALL CHARACTERS ARE GOING TO BE LIKABLE AND IT’D DO YOU WELL IF YOU ACKNOWLEDGED THAT!!

  • Amelia B

    Yes, but Gus is similar to the Manic Pixie Dream Girl/Guy trope, one that has been overused time and time again. (see: 500 Days of Summer, etc.)
    Also, the fact that girls are falling over themselves saying “OMG!!!! GUS IS SOOOOO ROMANTIC!!!!!” is a little problematic, esp since he is so pretentious.
    I’m all for flawed characters, but if people don’t see that they’re flawed…then we have issues.

  • Haley Keller

    But the Manic Pixie Dream Guy trope doesn’t really have anything to do with him being pretentious. I feel like those are two different arguments against his character, but I was just focusing on the pretentiousness. I can agree with you about people not realizing characters are flawed, but I feel like that happens with a good deal of characters. Plus, that’s not typically the book’s or author’s fault. It’s the people who read it, get crushes on characters, and then put blinders on just like most people do for real life crushes.

  • Amelia B

    “The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is there to give new meaning to the hero’s life. [S]he’s stunningly attractive, high on life, full of wacky quirks and idiosyncrasies […] [S]he’s inexplicably obsessed with our stuffed-shirt hero, on whom [s]he will focus her kuh-razy antics until he learns to live freely and love madly.” (

    That follows him to a T. My friend Henna (motherhenna @tumblr) explained why this both characterizes him pretty well and is a huge flaw in his characterization, saying:

    “Now, I wouldn’t mind Augustus’s arrogance being a real flaw in him if it was TREATED as a flaw. But it isn’t. Hazel NEVER calls him out on his pretentious, self-righteous and grandiose behavior except once, and it was done half-heartedly, and he never even apologizes; he simply says along the lines of, “I’m sorry that you feel that way” and she just forgets about it. People call him deep, but I honestly saw very little character development on his part; all of the change was with Hazel…Whenever he talks, I feel like he’s on a stage delivering lines to an audience. He seems hollow. He doesn’t feel like a real 17 year old boy struggling with the loss of his leg and physical health to a crippling disease, he just feels like a ham-handed metaphor.”

    Except I feel like Mr. Green did not do a good enough job preventing the romanticization. And yes, it’s a love story, but love stories don’t have to blindly praise the person even after death. Maybe Hazel should have realized that Gus wasn’t this perfect boy she made him out to be, realizing a year later that she was in love with the idea of him, whereas in the flesh, he wasn’t as great.

  • Yaira

    I just wonder what book this people read or if the were paying attention to the book… because that’s how Gus is SUPPOSED to act…

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