That may seem like a totally absurd question to ask, but according to a study from Denmark, movies and books like Twilight are replacing traditional religion in the daily lives and minds of teenagers, particularly when it comes to dealing with the big questions in life.
The PhD thesis from the University of Copenhagen, conducted by Danish researcher Line Nybro Petersen, finds that Danish teenagers are not looking for answers to life’s big queries in established religious institutions. Instead, they engage in intense idolization of films and TV shows about vampires and other supernatural beings. Popular series like Twilight are replacing traditional religion, but still enhancing teen’s interest in spiritual and religious issues.
Many of the Danish teenagers involved in the study reject old-fashioned established religious institutions and its traditional religious beliefs. In some cases, a lack of coherent religious views will make supernatural TV shows and films, like The Vampire Diaries and Twilight, assume part of the function which the old religious institutions used to have.
“My thesis demonstrates that 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,” explains PhD Line Nybro Petersen from the Department of Media, Cognition and Communication, University of Copenhagen.
She added, “A number of the teenagers I interviewed did, for example, express their fascination with the fact that vampires that are traditionally portrayed as evil often come across as heroic characters in current TV shows. They see that as an invitation to reconsider their own assumptions about good and evil. 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.”
This study is big, but not exactly surprising. Speaking personally, I never had interest in traditional religions. I gave religion a try, but I always went back to my supernatural books. There was no bible on my bedside table, there were piles of books about vampires, wizards, fairies and so on. I always found the magical world more relatable and significantly more fascinating than that of organized religion.
What are your thoughts on this study? How do you feel about teenagers replacing religion with vampires and other supernatural beings?