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“It’s a Metaphor” is a memorable quote from a dialogue scene in from a teaser for the upcoming 2014 teen drama film The Fault in Our Stars. Upon the release of the teaser in April 2014, this quote, which is said by the male protagonist Gus to analogize an unlit cigarette in his mouth to a test of will, spawned a parody photo fad and a photoshop meme on Tumblr.
On April 13th, 2014, a preview clip from The Fault in Our Stars, an upcoming film adaptation of John Green’s eponymous young adult novel published in 2012, was screened at the MTV Movie Awards ceremony. In one of the scenes unveiled that day, Gus, a teenager at a cancer support group, puts a cigarette in his mouth in the company of Hazel Grace, a teenager diagnosed with lung cancer. When Hazel expresses disgust that he would smoke, Gus explains:
“It’s a metaphor see. You put the thing that does the killing right between your teeth, but you never give it the power to kill you.
On April 15th, Tumblr user 1-800-health-inspector posted a GIF of King of the Hill character Bobby in front of a large pile of cigarette butts with the caption “It’s a metaphor.” In less than a week, the post gained over 300 notes.
On April 15th, Tumblr user mamalovebone submitted a photograph of herself biting on an Algebra textbook with a parody version of the quote (shown below), which gained over 53,000 notes in less than a week. In the week following the trailer release, the hashtag #itsametaphor was tweeted out over 3,800 times and mentioned more than 9,000 times on Instagram.
On April 17th, The Fault in Our Stars author John Green posted an anymous question about the meme and his reply to his Tumblr blog:
“How do you feel about “It’s a metaphor” jokes blowing up on tumblr?
I think they are hilarious. I’m particularly fond of this one."
Other Tumblr posts for the meme with high note counts include hedgehogdilemm4’s overstuffed cigarettes post with over 150 notes, alivechihiro’s meta post with over 200 notes and clictator cigarette wig post with over 10,000 notes.
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