As a fellow former English teacher, I already like the man who is John Green. However; despite my affinity for Green, the man is a genius in more ways than one, that few people can argue. Why is it important for the average adult to care? Because his name is one that will stick around for quite a while, and let’s be honest, his books are kind of awesome.
#1) He is the ultimate “teen whisperer.”
Green understands teenagers on a unique level that many of us adults definitely do not and never will. He takes a mix of this understanding along with his own experiences as a teen and creates books that more or less have become a “voice” for the modern-day teen experience. In an interview this month, Green explained his approach:“I try to take teenagers seriously and credit them with the intelligence and curiosity that I’ve seen in them, and that I remember from my own adolescence.”
There is a sort of “ingredients list” when creating best seller after best seller, and for Green that’s a simple understanding of the human condition, which can also translate to adults too. While his obvious target audience is the misunderstood teen, his books and movies act as a guilty pleasure for many adults, widening his “customer base” to span decades. And who knows, maybe his popularity among adults is because many of us view his books and movies as a sort of window into the modern teen’s soul. Either way, the man’s ability to understand teens is impeccable.
#2) His books/movies are the new teen anthems for this decade.
Green doesn’t see this disillusioned generation of tech-obsessed zombie teens that many people do. He sees a group of young people with a unique experience and a passionate way of looking at the world. He bottles that up in his books, creating story lines that pull at anyone’s heart strings (think Fault in our Stars….oh man, the tears). Even the soundtracks to these movies are powerful and more popular than other movies that are just as best-selling. For example, Paper Towns‘ soundtrack (which as a novel debuted at #5 on the New York Times bestseller list and won the 2009 Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Mystery) features 24 songs in a mix of both well-known and newer artists that have quite literally the anthem for many teens enthralled in the mysteriously romantic angst of Paper Towns. It even features the highly popular remix of “Lost it Trying” by Son Lux.
And not only do his books (and movie adaptations) target teens, they act as a guilty pleasure for adults who might still have a few unadulterated passions still pulsing through their veins. Because, let’s face it, being an adult isn’t all that fun sometimes and living vicariously through characters who have the freedom to disappear from their day to day lives and set up a treasure hunt to be found (ala the plot line in Paper Towns) sounds pretty awesome.
#3) He creates a relationship with his fan-base.
Is it too bold to call John Green the modern-day YA literature version of Steven King? Maybe, but maybe not. Green gained popularity with his video blogs that feature the same sense of humor and lighthearted intelligence of his novels. His website is his brand, and it’s a way to create relationships with his readers that few other authors tap into. For example, you won’t see a video blog on Stephen King’s website about 15 things he likes about going outside, but you will find that on Green’s. It’s just another way to make him more likable and almost approachable, something teens are particularly attracted to.
This generation of young people, because they are growing up with social media, expect a sort of two-way-street relationship with celebrities, and Green is creating just that. His fan-base feels like he is a friend, someone they relate to. He doesn’t just write books. He speaks to his audience, involves them, and creates books/movies that act as a mouthpiece for this seemingly misunderstood generation, because haven’t we all felt just a little misunderstood?[amazon template=iframe image&asin=014241493X]