We all know Star Wars fans take the Force quite seriously, with some even defining their Jedi beliefs as a full-fledged religion.
So it comes as little surprise that Twilight, at least for some teens, is replacing traditional religion and piquing interest in spiritual issues.
“The lack of a coherent religious world view will in some cases make TV shows like Twilight and the Vampire Diaries, in which vampires and other religious symbols abound, assume part of the function which the old religious institutions used to have,” explained Nybro Petersen from the University of Copenhagen.
“A film series like Twilight offers young people a playground for exploring life’s big questions, moral judgment and to imagine the possibility of the supernatural in a pleasurable and informal fashion. The fictional worlds challenge their presuppositions about themselves and their surroundings.”
Petersen says she interviewed a number of teenagers who expressed their fascination with the fact that vampires – traditionally portrayed as evil – often come across as heroic characters in current TV shows.
“They see [it] as an invitation to reconsider their own assumptions about good and evil,” she said. ”But apart from this it is of course important to stress that the TV shows attract the teenagers’ attention because they to a great extent deal with the very problems the teenagers grapple with themselves.”
Petersen also confirmed the idolization of a film series like Twilight can become so intense that it resembles a new form of religious worship. For example, the film or TV show itself becomes sacred, with fans comparing all other supernatural shows to the “canonical” and original series.
“I have observed the Twilight fans at premieres and noted how they through a number of rituals show or perform their affiliation with the series. They cry, shriek, and sing – and this performance is central to their sense of belonging to something larger than themselve… They do, in other words, invest a lot of emotion in the fictional universe and the events that form part of it,” she added.