QJPop: It’s easy being Green

As a rule, authors whose books become movies (who aren’t J.K. Rowling), do not become superstars. Nor do they receive spots on Time’s “100 Most Influential People” list, go on a multi-city tour in promotion of their film, or have Beatlemania-esque screaming fans. John Green, in lieu of the film adaptation of his best-selling book The Fault in Our Stars, has proved to be the exception to this rule.

The public eye is not a new concept to the 36-year-old father of two. His other novels, An Abundance of Katherines, Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns (which is now in the early stages of becoming a film) were met with great success and praise on the young adult literary circuit. But his most ardent followers have sprung up around his online presence as one half of the YouTube-vlogging duo, the vlogbrothers.

John and his brother Hank began making YouTube videos in 2007, inspired by the vlogging styles of early Youtube successes zefrank and lonelygirl15. Since then, the brothers have produced hundreds of four-minute or less videos that are educational, comedic, musical or philanthropic. They’ve raised hundreds of thousands of dollars each year for a different charity through their campaign “The Project for Awesome.” But the most remarkable element of the vlogbrothers is the fan community, composed of “nerdfighters”, that has grown around them. Nerdfighter values include thoughtfulness, enthusiasm, unapologetic nerdiness and, for many, a love of reading. The vlogbrother’s encouragements to viewers to read anything and everything, including Green’s work, has bolstered the success and popularity of his novels.

From the very beginning, The Fault in Our Stars has been a book engaging with readers through the Internet. Two months before the book came out, Green read the first chapter in a YouTube video. Shortly after, the first 150,000 copies of the novel released were each hand-signed by Green, who documented the process on YouTube.

Readers who received signed copies could in return post pictures of themselves holding their signed hardcover copy of Green’s novel on Twitter or Tumblr. Those same fans later posted video reactions about the news that the book was going to be made into a film. Green simultaneously posted videos about the film-making process and Instagrammed from on the set. With Green’s following came a built-in buzz for the film, which is visible in the mile-long lineups for early film screenings.

All of this, however, is not to minimize the strength of the book itself. The Fault in Our Stars is a beautifully composed tale of youth, illness, love and friendship. It follows the precocious 16-year-old Hazel Grace Lancaster, played by rising star Shailene Woodley in the film, who attends a cancer support group whilst battling the disease.

There she meets the charming and swoon-worthy Augustus Waters, played by Ansel Egort, whose cancer is in remission after having had his leg amputated. Their story is profound and moving, and meticulously crafted by Green. It’s extremely quotable — it feels as if every eight sentences or so could be plucked out and made into a Pinterest poster. And in many cases, it has.

The Internet is the perfect platform for fans to share their creativity and, in doing so, generate more and more hype around the film. It’s a genius marketing strategy that perfectly utilizes the monetary potential of the Internet. The film’s inevitable success will prove the enormous power of the Internet and will solidify the inclusion of online fan engagement in the film industry. In the meantime, Green will continue to collect Twitter followers and fame as the Internet integrates itself further into the mainstream.

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