Attack of the models: When people will riot for their shot at fame

The dust has settled, the broken high heels mended, and we can safely assess the fallout from the terrifying stampede of wannabe models at the America's Next Top Model auditions.

Having been there, and having seen these girls for myself, I was struck by something the news reports didn't convey. Discussion of the event centered on poor crowd control and blame-placing, but even an hour after the awful mob scene, well after living through the animal chaos, girls were hanging around, stumbling through mounds of trash, clutching their resumes and still hoping to have their shot at fame. They actually chased down some nameless schmoe who was carrying an open cardboard box just to stick their headshots and phone numbers into it.

A blind hunger for something can easily lead you to harm yourself. In the Great Depression, Americans would destroy both body and mind in multi-day dance marathons just for the chance to win some paltry prize. With the hindsight of better times, we could see such masochistic misery as emblematic of the depths to which our society had sunk. The clamor to be on TV reality shows -- and let's be honest, it goes way beyond Top Model -- has brought that pathetic desperation back to us.