The movie Twilight made a staggering $70.6 million at the box office in its opening weekend. To give you some perspective on that, that's the fourth highest opening weekend for a movie this year. The film website Box Office Mojo reports, "According to distributor Summit Entertainment's exit polling, 75 percent of Twilight's audience was female and 55 percent was under 25 years old."
So chances are if you have a teen or preteen daughter, she's already seen Twilight. And if she hasn't, she will want to. That raises some questions for parents: What kind of values is this movie promoting? And how should I talk to my daughter about them?
If you remember Mark Earley's "BreakPoint" commentary about the Twilight books (which form the basis of the movie), you'll know that the question being raised here about Twilight's values is a tricky one. That's because, as Mark explained, on the surface, this love story between a vampire and a high school girl looks like it's selling a pro-abstinence message. And several Christians and conservative commentators have bought into that image and are enthusiastic about it—which isn't hard to understand.
If we had found a book or a movie that really offered a healthy, chaste, chivalrous vision of romance that was attracting teenagers by the millions, well, that would indeed be cause for rejoicing. And I'd be as eager as anyone to climb on the bandwagon and help promote them.
But unfortunately, I can't do that this time. Because underneath the surface, there are some truly disturbing themes and ideas in Twilight. Chief among these is that old, dangerous idea that a "bad boy" can easily be won and tamed by a "good girl"—an idea that has brought heartache to untold millions of good girls. As a Christian, I obviously believe that redemption and change is possible for sinners. But I also know that human beings alone cannot change each other.
So when you're talking to your daughter about Twilight, here are a few points you might touch on.
It is not romantic, or safe, when a boy spies on you, follows you, and sneaks into your room without your knowledge (and especially without your parents' knowledge).
It is not romantic, or safe, when someone tells you he's dangerous and he's killed people, to give answers like, "It doesn't matter," and, "I'm not afraid." Again, I've worked with repentant murderers in prison. I know firsthand that redemption is possible for them. But that doesn't mean that what they've done doesn't matter.
It is not romantic, or safe, to try to see how close you and your boyfriend can get to the edge of danger without going over.
And it is not romantic, or safe, to offer yourself up for a boy to do whatever he wants to you—symbolized in the movie by the young heroine asking the vampire to bite her so she can become like him.
I know that Christian parents already have to spend a lot of time undoing the damaging lessons that their children are being taught—by the culture, by their peers, and even by their schools.
But it says something very sad about our culture when we have to argue that a young girl dating a dangerous killer is not a good role model, even if they are being abstinent.