The Fault in Our Stars is available for download this week and on Blu-ray in September, but should there be a more thematically accurate title printed on the Blu-ray box?
The familiar American title suggests that one is trapped by their fated stars, but in the Netherlands, there's an alternative title that suggests one can control their fate, It simply reads in loose translation: Fuck Fate. Author John Green even suggested in his New Yorker profile that this title might be better.
So which title is better? Is the message of the story that we are fated or that we can control our fate?
The answer might actually be both. Author John Green seems to say that humans are indeed limited by fate, but we also have the power to do amazing things within those limitations.
So if the message is hopeful, why call the book The Fault in Our Stars? Possibly because this book is not about blind hope; it's about acceptance and perseverance in the face of reality -- a modern realistic fairytale of sorts.
In the USA and other westernized parts of the world, many people have the fairytale belief that we completely make our own fate. We believe no matter the obstacle, the odds can be overcome, that the stars do not matter. In fact, in the western world we are grossly biased to see outcomes in the control of people that many psychologists call this bias the fundamental attribution bias.
Through the story of two teenagers with cancer, The Fault in Our Stars challenges us to see just how miserable and inescapable our stars can be. The teenagers are going to die young and there is nothing anyone can do. The book is a harsh lesson in reality.
However, the "fuck fate" mentality of the Dutch title also comes across in the book. The characters don't give into being victims but instead laugh about their cancer with dark humor and thrive. They are committed to pursuing a life that, however short, is full of love, friendship, principles and learning.
So is Fuck Fate the better title? Maybe. However, what's undeniable is the story is about both saying "fuck fate" and realizing sometimes we cannot escape fate. In the end, it encourages us all to make the best of the stars we are given and enjoy our own "little infinities."