COLUMBIA, 11/22/11 (Beat Byte) -- Next to Wills and Kate, the marriage of Edward the vampire and Bella the mortal was this year's most anticipated nuptials.
But as "Breaking Dawn" breaks across the big screen this month, three University of Missouri communication professors warn that it has the most controversial cultural messages of the entire Twilight vampire love saga.
"Of the four books and movies, Breaking Dawn is perhaps the most troubling in terms of gender messages," said Jennifer Stevens Aubrey, Ph.D., co-author with Melissa Click, Ph.D. and Elizabeth Behm-Morawitz, Ph.D. of Bitten by Twilight: Youth Culture, Media & the Vampire Franchise.
The supernatural soap opera's mostly female fans had enjoyed a traditional, idealized romance that stressed abstinence between vampire and mortal. But with "Breaking Dawn," many fans disagreed with Bella's marriage and pregnancy choices.
Although "many of the teenage Twilight fans we interviewed were excited to see Bella and Edward get married shortly after high school graduation, they did not want to make the same choices that Bella makes in Breaking Dawn," said Click. "These teenagers want to go to college, and they didn't want to rush into marriage and motherhood."
Despite teenage critical thinking, the Twilight saga still bombards fans with subtle messages about gender and sexuality that concern the three Mizzou professors. "Breaking Dawn, and the series as a whole, does more than entertain - it communicates and potentially reinforces cultural messages about sex before marriage, life and death," Behm-Morawitz explained.