I think this kind of malignacy has been growing in our society for awhile. Look at the Osbourne's, Anna Nicole, and the Gotti's. They are seriously impaired people who are making millions showing the world how spoiled, uncouth, degenerated, and stupid they are. My opinion is that our society is not necessarilly raising them up on a pedastool to worship them, but actually to ridicule them. I am taking this from an American Point of view, but it could hold for most of the civilized world. We like to make ourselves look better by putting others down.
We watch these people so that we can sit there and say "what asses" and "we would never be caught dead doing that". Then we laugh an make jokes about them. This is far easier to do then fix remove the mote from our own eye. I really do not watch these shows, but I know I am just as able to act the same way.
I have been watching this change for years. Just look at shows like Cheers, Drew Carey, and Frasier. I enjoyed some of them myself. In alot of cases they are harmless, but go back and look where most of the good jokes were. You'll proabaly find them in situations where someone is being put down or made a fool of. It kind of makes a myth out of the kinder, gentler nation. Just look at our current right wing government which finds it easier to call people traitors than to admit that they were wrong about the WMD's in Iraq and put down a lot of the democrats ideas but later adopted them themselves.
Unfortunatedly, as you have noted, our youth suffers because of this culture. We are so busy putting these people down that we don't take the time to make sure our children, who do not understand and are impressionable, don't become these people. Or else, we treat it as cute and don't take it serious until the damage is done. In my opinion, we are a lost people in the U.S. We got so caught up in our own grandness that we forgot how we got there. We are a nation of "Bling Bling" and not of substance.
I hope no one takes this personal because I am looking at our society as a whole not at individual people. There are still a lot of good people out there, I just think we have become lost and confused and afraid to speak.