Knowing the ins and outs of popular culture has never been my strong suit. I turn to my wife to understand the broader context, such as when I was editing a story on the increasing trend, in movies and TV shows, of sympathy toward the villain.

The piece, "What happens when the bad guys are the good guys," expanded on popular characters like Don Draper in "Mad Men," Walter White in "Breaking Bad," and an impending Disney movie, "Maleficient," that will tell the "Sleeping Beauty" story from the perspective of the evil queen.

Talking about the good and the bad in this trend, my wife and I traced it back to the 2003 Broadway hit show "Wicked," which gave voice to the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz.

The positive of this teaches empathy for another in trying to understand a person whose actions are, we believe, bad. The negative is the very narrow line from analyzing and understanding evil to accepting and embracing it.

That's one reason that article focused so strongly on the way our culture tells stories to children, and to young adults and to grown-ups. For each stage of our lives, different aspects of art have different touchstone meanings for us. That's why it's important to grow, gradually, into our appreciation for multi-dimensional characters.

The Deseret News' coverage of values in the media permeates many of the subjects that resonate most deeply in our technology-laden society, including the perils of cyberbullying. As with the football coach in Roosevelt, Utah, who suspended his entire team, adults can have an influence on kids by putting competition aside and encouraging service over selfishness.

As so many kids have access to internet technology, our culture faces increased strain from their easier access to pornography. Our three-part series on the personal and societal costs of pornography broke new ground that may be causing others voices nationally to wake up to the changes for relationships and values being caused by pornography consumption.

The turmoil faced by teenagers almost makes one want to turn into a gripping young adult novel or movie derivation including blockbusters such as the Hunger Games, "Ender's Game" or the Harry Potter series. In each of these works, the adults have disappointed the children of the world. It falls on the younger generation to right the wrongs that have been done to them and make the word anew.

--Drew Clark, Deseret News

Media violence 'unchained'
Associated Press

The days when television programmers considered football games and evening sitcoms a safe zone are over. A Parents Television Council analysis found that on-screen violence is on the rise for every time slot of over-the-air prime-time programming. "TV violence has become a paradox of sorts," the study concluded. "Medical and social science have proven conclusively that children are adversely affected by exposure to it — yet millions of parents think nothing of letting their children watch … violent programs."

Read the full report here: Media violence 'unchained': Multiple studies show kids are adversely affected by violence in entertainment, news

Social, personal and relational costs of pornography
Chris Arrant Photography

This four-part series looks at the effects of pornography consumption.

Part 1: Ubiquitous assailant: The dangerous unasked questions surrounding pornography

Part 2: Second-hand porn: the spreading circle of damage

Part 3: Legal leverage: Laws to fight pornography aren't being used, anti-porn activists say

Part 4: Trauma and recovery: 2 couples claw back from porn addiction

Where are the moms in movies?
Warner Bros. Pictures

A theory captured by something called the Bechdel Test suggests a substantial portion of contemporary films fail to portray any women with adequate emotional depth.

Read the full report here: Where are the moms in movies? Bechdel Test explains

Red-band trailers
Universal Pictures

Are your kids watching red-band movie trailers online? Maybe. But chances are, you've never heard of them.

Read the full report here: Red-band trailers: Why parents should know what they are, and how easy they are to access

'The Bible' miniseries
Associated Press

Airing on History, "The Bible" topped 10 million viewers with each of its five episodes. Factoring in the people who also watched "The Bible" via DVR or re-broadcasts, more than 60 million viewers have tuned into the miniseries.

Read the full report here: 'The Bible' miniseries finishes strong five-week run

Sundance Institute

A Sundance Film Festival documentary about NBA star Jeremy Lin shows the power of faith, family and perseverance.

Read the full report here: Faith and family fuel Sundance 'Linsanity' documentary

The evolution of horror movies
Deseret News archives

Here's a look at how horror movies reflect our society, the things we are afraid of and the things we accept as entertainment.

Read the full report here: The evolution of horror movies: Why less is still more

Hollywood’s gender age gap
Associated Press

Hollywood’s awards season has a long and documentable history of feting movie actors who are several years older than the actresses receiving equivalent recognition.

Read the full report here: Oscars illustrate Hollywood’s gender age gap

When the villain becomes the hero

Recent television shows, movies and plays have explored the backstories of beloved villains, while TV continues to celebrate the anti-hero. What are the consequences of our culture embracing these characters, and what do they reflect about our culture?

Read the full report here: What happens when the bad guys are the good guys?

Effects of violent video games
Associated Press

The residual effect of violent video games on kids is a hotly debated topic. Some experts say violent gaming can damage developing brains, while others shrug off the threat as a ubiquitous part of contemporary adolescence. Can both sides be right?

Read the full report here: Violent video games: Why experts want more research and what parents can do

Don't miss the other editors' picks
Jenna Watson

Editors’ picks 2013: Care for the poor

Editors’ picks 2013: The family

Editors’ picks 2013: Faith in the community

Editors’ picks 2013: Excellence in education

Editors’ picks 2013: Financial responsibility