The highly anticipated third film in the wildly popular Twilight series opens today. Twilight was named one of Publishers Weekly's Best Children's Books of 2005. The novel was also the biggest selling book of 2008. To date, it has sold almost 20 million copies worldwide, spent over 91 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list, and been translated into 37 different languages. The first two movies—Twilight and New Moon—took in a sensational $1.1 billion at the box office. In 2009 and 2010, the movies topped the teen choice awards, and swept virtually all the categories at the MTV Movie Awards.  Twilight has become the hottest love story of our time. It's a teen rage, and a significant cultural phenomenon.

The question that I always ask, when I see something so grip the hearts and minds of women, is "Why?".  And it was this question that was foremost in my mind when I finally sat down a couple weeks ago to watch and analyze the first two movies.

Personally, I could barely stomach the prolonged furtive glances, pained expressions, and shallow, banal dialogue that passed between Edward and Bella. But setting that aside, I think I understand the story's attraction to young teen girls.

To begin, the saga portrays "traditional" roles for male and female at a time when it is highly counter-cultural to do so. Bella isn't a male-kicking, karate-chopping, independent, domineering heroine.  She's gentle, soft, and vulnerable. Her character flies in the face of the tough-girl image that's portrayed by most contemporary movies.  I think young girls intuitively know that the prevalent portrayal of women as tough doesn't match who they are. The average teen senses that she's not wired that way. She longs to be the princess in a traditional fairy tale romance. She wants to be a woman. And she wants a man to be a man.

A young woman intuitively yearns for someone who will pursue her, protect her, and cherish her beauty and vulnerability. She yearns for a man to love her at a deep personal and emotional level—and not just a physical, sexual one. Regardless of culture's attempts at egalitarian brainwashing, the man of her dreams is still a strong, handsome prince charming who fights for her, and rescues her. He loves her, commits to her, and selflessly sets aside personal interest for the sake of her best interest.

Edward fits the bill.

It's not surprising that young girls are falling for him. But sadly, their enthusiasm for being the leading lady in a heart-gripping romance lacks discernment. The movie grips them at such a deep emotional level that they shrug off the glaring warnings that indicate that this particular relationship is unhealthy. It's a counterfeit version of a fairy-tale romance. It looks good and attractive on the surface, but the underlying darkness in Edward will most certainly lead to disaster for Bella. It may go well for a time, but in the end, it will kill her. She's playing with fire, and she's going to get burned.

Danger Signs

If Bella were my daughter, several alarm bells would be going off in my head about her relationship with Edward. I would not approve. Regardless of how "in love" she felt, I would argue that this romance was not good for her, and would not end well. It would ultimately be bad and not good for her soul. There are some very clear danger signs in their relationship that I would flag: