Hollywood’s Fault and ‘The Fault in Our Stars,’ by Marc Erlbaum

Reflections on filmmaking in the wake of an escalating culture of violence

With a spate of teen fantasy films transporting us from reality over the past several years, TFIOS is a welcome return to the world that we actually inhabit

by Marc Erlbaum  

bajo-la-misma-estrellaWith two mass shootings by young men on college campuses over the past month, conversations about violence and values in the media inevitably surface. Why are these events becoming more frequent? Is it a function of the images that the troubled perpetrators see on their screens, whether in the movies and TV they watch or the video games they play? Is it a desire for notoriety? Is it, as a columnist asserted in the Washington Post after the Isla Vista shootings, that the images of wish fulfillment that we see on screen are not truly within anyone’s grasp and thus unfulfilled in our frustrated reality?

While there are clearly a variety of factors that contribute to these tragic events, with their incidence increasing at an alarming rate, it is certainly worthwhile for content creators to to do some genuine soul searching to explore their role and influence on our culture and society.

At a moment like this, it is particularly refreshing to see the tremendous success of this weekend’s box office leader, The Fault In Our Stars. Adapted from the bestselling young adult novel by John Green, TFIOS, as it’s known to Green’s adoring fans, is a beautiful and beautifully honest story about two teens who are dying from cancer and dying to squeeze everything out of life before they do.

With a spate of teen fantasy films transporting us from reality over the past several years, TFIOS is a welcome return to the world that we truly inhabit. The protagonist and narrator Hazel, played with stunning poise and power by Shailene Woodley, opens the film with a voiceover that admits the attraction of Hollywood sugarcoating and fantasizing, but promises instead to provide us the truth.

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