I think it was sometime around age nineteen, I realized something awful about my future that was awful only because it is contradictory to anything any nineteen year-old in generations before mine has had to think:
I will never be as well off as my parents.
I was probably sitting in managerial accounting or some other benign business school practice, when I realized that college didn't guarantee my future whatsoever. There were too many people around me. I wasn't special. In order to be valuable, I had to be obviously special. If the supply of me was low and valuable, my demand would be high. This is why being super hot is awesome - not many of us are super hot and demand for such a feature is very very high (not just from Joe Francis).
For most of you reading this, I know this is probably a very juvenile revelation. In terms of socioeconomic epiphanies, it's analogous to the toddler dropping his food from his towering high chair to torture his mom and learn how gravity works.
Nevertheless, it has its place. Follow me, will you?
In the last few years, there has been an epidemic of really shitty TV shows about rich kids that haven't done a damn thing to become rich (i.e. The Hills). But they can be famous because their parents are rich and they are rich by proxy (and can hire a publicist and agent) and good looking (i.e. have time and money to spend on a personal trainer, stylist, and plastic surgery).
Heidi and Spencer have become an icon of celebrity that can be bought like a college education.
Upon witnessing these frivilous (and possibly secretly brilliant) wildebeasts of silicone and bleach, the wheels began to turn in the little noggins of those currently betwixt the agents of twelve and twenty. Subconciously, realizing the reason that the economy is falling down all around them is through no fault of their own and thusly they cannot fix it. They, too, silently realizing that they will never be able to work hard enough to be as well off as their parents. All the while seeing a few individuals stay on the top of the steaming capitalism heap: celebrities.
These are middle class kids. Kids whose parents are better off than their grandparents, because they worked hard and got an education. Sorry, but thanks to outsourcing and the widening wealth gap, that doesn't pay the bills anymore. You have to be REALLY special to be better off than your parents. You have to be a celebrity.
The money is out there for a non-rich kid to invest in becoming a celebrity. It costs roughly $5,000 - $10,000 per month to hire a PR firm and/or publicist to manage your media appearances. Add in a personal trainer, stylist, and someone to help you pretend that you have talent and we're proably into about $15,000 per month. Really, in terms of what's available via credit card and other shenanigans you can pull in LA, that's not a lot. It's cheaper than college.
I fervently believe that this is the reason for American youth obsession with celebrity and shunning of education. Don't expect your kids to want an education, they have been quietly trained to see that they will not be better off than you, they will not even be as well off as their grandparents. For most of them, it sadly doesn't seem like it's worth following the American rules of success. The Heidi and Spencer method is so much more effective...and shiny.