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WASHINGTON (CAP) - A new study out of the Pew Research Center found that more than 85 percent of teen girls believe that Twilight, the book series about a girl named Bella who falls in love with a vampire, is a non-fiction account of actual events.
And of those, more than 60 percent think that Edward Cullen, the male protagonist, might someday leave Bella and marry them, the study showed.
"Oh my God, Edward is so gorgeous and he has, like, such a beautiful heart," said Rachel, a 14-year-old from Madison, Wis., who took part in the study. Fighting back tears, she added, "I'm going to marry him, absolutely."
Many of the participants pointed to the fact that Edward and his family drink animal blood instead of human blood as proof of his virtuous nature, although most noted they would gladly be turned into a vampire if it meant they could be together. And while most acknowledged that Edward would probably never leave Bella by choice, there was always the chance that she could die tragically - possibly eaten by werewolves - leaving him free to marry them.
"It's almost like they're willing themselves to believe it," said Dr. Francis Spitznagel of the Pew Research Center, who likened it to a sort of "mass delusion."
"We haven't seen anything like it since Titanic," he noted. The cruise industry saw a sharp upswing in business after that film was released in 1998, when thousands of teenage girls talked their parents into booking cruises based on their sincere belief that the ship would sink and that they would be rescued by Leonardo DiCaprio.
The pending film adaptation of Twilight is adding another level to the hysteria, according to Spitznagel, with close to 100 percent of teen girls surveyed refusing to acknowledge the existence of Robert Pattinson, who plays Edward in the film.
"The minute our researchers would mention Mr. Pattinson's name, the participants, almost to a one, would respond, You mean Edward," said Spitznagel. "When the researcher would try to explain that Mr. Pattinson was an actor who would be portraying the character of Edward in a movie, some of the girls would get belligerent, and others would just burst into tears."
According to Spitznagel, more than 75 percent of the teenagers said that there was no way Pattinson could be a human actor, pointing to the way that his skin "sparkled in the sunlight." But infrared photographs of Pattinson commissioned by the Pew Center failed to turn up any such sparkle.
The results have already raised some concerns among certain special interest groups. Darlene Fortenski of Mothers Against Everything (MAE), whose group has made headlines recently for speaking out against the Jonas Brothers and 7-year-old boys who love the word "poop," said the study was "disturbing."
"On the one hand, it's nice that Bella and Edward choose to wait until they're married to have relations, even if that results in Bella giving birth to a half-human, half-vampire that almost kills her during childbirth and forces Edward to turn her into a vampire to save her life," said Fortenski. "But is marrying a vampire really a good choice? I mean, when there are doctors and such."
In response, teenage girls around the world have responded by saying that Fortenski was "ruining their life" and that she would "never, ever" understand them. Several of them also said they hated her, but reportedly regretted it later.
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