The Fault in Our Stars – have you seen this movie? Jesus what a pile of shite. While I was on holidays with the BFF I was uncharacteristically accommodating about what movies we watched on our down time. She has that power over me, and I suck up my under-breath mutterings and sighs as much as I can. So that is how I came to be watching a film I knew from the outset that I would hate.
But oh my god was it way worse than even I could imagine, and I have a huge capacity for imagination when it comes to things I believe I will hate.
Where to start? Ok a quick synopsis in case you’ve been living under your bed with no access to any media, social or otherwise (you’d actually be better off where this film is concerned) anyway: Ok two young teenagers are riddled with cancer. He’s gorgeous and she’s some sort of pseudo-intellectual – who incidentally has no friends. Her mom forces her to go to a help/discussion group and that’s where she meets our hero. Now she starts off endearing herself to me by shooting down Hero Pretty-boy’s ridiculous notions of affirmation or some such nonsense. Kind of darkly and in a realistic way, I liked this, got lulled into a momentary false sense of thinking this may not be absolute brain glue. I relaxed my cynicism way too soon.
So they develop this unfathomable friendship where they are all but girlfriend and boyfriend – ‘all but’ being that there’s no sex, no kissing, nothing. She knows that he’s mad about her, he openly tells her. So let’s stop there and just pull that apart for a second.
She makes no bones about the fact that she’s dying (it’s incurable, of course it is it’s a movie) let’s not sugar coat it she says. And she claims that she wants to do all she can before she pops her clogs. She’s been sick and kind of cossetted since she was 13 – there’s no way she wasn’t literally dying to kiss a boy, any boy! Not to mention a super-hot hero boy? And if she was so determined to experience everything before she died why wasn’t she grabbing this huge and obvious rite of passage with both hands and shifting the face off this young fella???
Just doesn’t seem realistic to me. The lame explanation that she gives is that she doesn’t want to hurt him…? HE’S DYING ANYWAY?? (Oh god, I was just a little cliché-sick in my mouth)
So what happens is that he hangs around being awesome as she goes ahead and takes all he has to offer ALL ON HER TERMS. While he valiantly accepts this argument from her and continues to hang around being more charming and more awesome; waiting for her to realise that she really does in fact, love him back. (spoiler alert, she does)
Now again here is my problem with this. This fucking drivel is aimed at teenagers, this book is god damned everywhere. Look around you it’s the new Twilight. This, in case you need a sign post is not a good thing. It’s not good for teenage girls, it’s not good for teenage boys and that means it’s not good for society. Why, I hear nobody ask, please tell us Abbi.
Ok I will.
This is setting everyone up for a fall. It’s once a-fecking-cliché-gain telling girls that they have to hold out. It’s telling them that if he’s good enough for you or worthy of your time (and of course you should only be spending time with those kinds of boys, god forbid that you ever make a mistake and hang out with the wrong boy for a while), but if he’s the right type of boy? Then he will sit around waiting for you until he has proven himself. That any good, decent type will know straight away that you’re the one and that you are worth the wait, just praying on the day that you decide to bestow a bit of affection on him. Fuck off!
And it manages in one fell swoop to set ALL teenage boys up to fail in the eyes of teenage girls. Ok, not all of them, I’m sure there’s a few beautiful heroes out there who are wise beyond their years. But in the most, no one can live up to that standard because no one is that perfect and noble and good. No one.
This whole notion irks me beyond belief. Girls are not some precious thing that needs to be won. Boys shouldn’t have to prove themselves in order to get close to them. Selling this as a premise to live by or any kind of standard is just so detrimentally harmful I think. We are all just humans trying to get by. And a teenage girl is just as horny as a teenage boy – I promise you. Just as curious and just as vindictive. We are the same.
I really loathe the notion that we’re different and that different rules apply, because I don’t think they do.
But let’s look at it another way. What if the roles were reversed? What if she was hanging around waiting for him to figure out that he loved her? Then she wouldn’t be a hero, with an admirable steely determination that one day her prince will realise he loves her. No, she’d be a sap. And that drives me nuts too. There’s no equality in it. But I suppose at its core I hate the thought of anyone abstaining for ludicrous reasons and books/films like this one perpetuate this notion.
I’m not saying that you have to sleep with everyone that you meet. Or even anyone you casually fancy, of course I’m not. I’m saying that holding up abstinence as some virtue above all others is preposterous, and not at all noble. It’s selling the tenet (particularly to teenagers) that waiting and holding out are covetable features, and sure, they are a bit. But what if you’re a super horny teenager with raging hormones and you can’t relate to this? Which I think most are. Well then you just feel like you’re not good enough and that you are somehow lacking in moral fibre because you can’t stop thinking about what you want boys to do to you….
Of course I know because I was that super horny teenager. And I did so much of the holding out and absolutely hating it. Thinking there was something wrong with me. And I can assure you (if it turns out that you need it?) that I am not lacking in moral fibre. I’m not sure what your barometers are but here’s a few classics: I’ve never been arrested, I don’t rob from people, I’m not a racist or a homophobe and I don’t fuck people over. I am pretty sure my mom likes me. Just because I want to have sex, have had a lot of sex, doesn’t diminish my moral worth.
And neither does it diminish my sexual worth either – it doesn’t matter how many people I’ve been with, that has no bearing on how I’ll approach the next partner or what connection we might have. It doesn’t detract anything from what I could bring, I’ll still be capable of excitement and newness and still open to anything. Each time I’ve had sex has not robbed the next partner of any part of me.
And someone’s capacity to abstain doesn’t necessarily make them a great person, it doesn’t make them anything. So can we just move on and stop peddling this stuff.
I’m sorry if you’re reading this and you have a teenage daughter and you’re happy for her to be disillusioned with regards to sex and the world. But you’re doing her a disservice.