Here's something I've been wanting to say for a long time.
Can we please stop hating on John Green for his success?
I'm not talking to those of you who just dislike John Green's books. That's a perfectly valid opinion, and you're completely entitled to it. No, I'm talking to the people who seem to dislike John Green as a person, simply because of his extreme popularity.
This argument—that John Green is somehow a lesser author and person because of his fame—makes no sense to me. Here's why:
John Green didn't ask for his popularity, and as far as I can tell, he never acts entitled. He never said, "Hey, wouldn't it be great if I were the most popular YA author ever, and lots of other writers didn't get the attention they deserve?" In fact, he is the first to call other writers more talented than he is, and he has spoken repeatedly (namely in this video) about how his success is based on luck. Yes, he works diligently on both his books and his online presence, but mostly he (rightly) attributes his success to chance. When you criticize him for his popularity, you are criticizing him for his incredibly good luck, for factors completely out of his control, which is just not fair.
Even more importantly, John Green uses his power for good. He can't stop people from liking his books—nor should he—so he uses his fame to give shout-outs to other authors. Not only that, but he helps charities and up-and-coming online content producers through online projects like the Project for Awesome. How can you criticize a person for being popular when he so empathetically takes advantage of his fame to help others?
But what really bothers me is that when you say John Green shouldn't be as famous as he is, you're basically saying that no young adult author should be popular and successful. Because here's the thing: if John Green shouldn't be popular, who should? He spends years writing stories that many readers enjoy, devotes just as much time to the online platforms that boost his success, and has enjoyed incredible good fortune. Rather than arguing that John Green shouldn't be popular, we should argue that young adult literature as a whole deserves more attention, that other writers should share his spots on the New York Times bestseller list. Instead of dragging John Green down, let's focus our efforts on boosting other authors up.
So, instead of ranting about John Green's popularity, here are a few suggestions on how to spend your time more productively.
- Buy a book by a lesser-known author who deserves to be as well-known as John Green. (There are a lot of writers who fit this description. I can give you an obnoxiously long list of recommendations if you want.)
- Recommend a book by a lesser-known author to a friend. Word of mouth is a great way to help writers achieve popularity.
- Read a John Green book if you haven't already. You might find that you truly enjoy his intelligent, well-written stories. And you might realize that while he shouldn't be the only famous YA author, he should be one of many.
Emily Rasmussen of Forever Literary