Seems only yesterday our culture was run by racism-ranting heiresses, rampaging redheads and self-mutilating pop stars. Suddenly, the whole culture is being run by bleacher-sitting T-shirt-wearing dorks who celebrate life-long commitment. This can't be good for democracy.

Where so recently we were awash in underage pole-dancing and the image of our national icons teetering on edge of self-immolation, now they demurely stand to the side, giving us space to pity them while hip hops stars try in vain to steal their thunder.

After years of seeing Parish Hilton and her set push our culture to the brink of armageddon, can it be that we have really stepped back from the precipice?

Some evidence that the tide has truly turned:

  • It has been nearly a year since we've had any big crazy mega-story on the level of Paris' arrest, Britney's hair cropping or Lindsay's initial lurch into insanity.
  • Paris Hilton has been in a quiet tabloid-free relationship for months, and her biggest play for the media spotlight has been releasing a new shampoo line.
  • Britney seems to have turned away from the brink of literal, not metaphoric, suicide and has released a not-at-all-a-trainwrecky album and gone a world tour from which the biggest controversy has been her onstage lip syncing.
  • While Lindsay continues to rage, Twitter seems to have been the right amount of rope for her to hang herself; her outbursts are now so common and so plainly on view for the world to see that they barely attract much notice.
  • Selling millions upon millions of albums, sweeping up every award American music has to offer, dorky, sweet, actually-scarily-talented, only-a-monster could hate, Jonas Brother-dating Taylor Swift's star has eclipsed even Miley's.
  • The biggest tabloid event of the season has been been Khloé Kardashian's after-all-the-fireworks, heartwarming, in-the-end-drama-free commitment to lifelong love with Lamar Odom.
  • The most read about actress of our times, Kristen Stewart, may indulge in a fair amount of public sulking and foster ambiguity about her relationship with her co-star, but to date she has yet to release a sex tape, openly steal a friend's boyfriend, get arrested or publicly lash out in an insane hate-filled rant. Her moods and snits are well within the bounds of pre-apocalypse young starlet divadom.
  • The absence of public misbehavior has been so marked that the paparazzi are having trouble even surviving.
  • Even the high priest of the mean girls era, Perez Hilton has been forced to start a bitchy-lite offshoot.
  • And the era's leading enabler, Joe Francis, is finally so deep in legal troubles that he seems on the brink of being buried by his own wretched world.

The upside of this are clear: our national solvency can't but be helped by young girls actually having positive role-models and not being encouraged to grow up into out-of-contol, drunk-on-narcissism, half-witted tabloid fodder striving desperately for negative attention.

Still, on the other hand, so many have wished Paris and Lindsay to be gone for so long, that shouldn't we be just a little bit worried that on the brink of getting our wish, we may be walking into a trap; that standing on a hill somewhere Mr. Roarke is watching our sea plane taking off and saying, mysteriously, "Yes, Tattoo, America got its fantasy of a world with no Paris, but, my friend, but at what price?"

Is a world where stars comport themselves with dignity, remember to thank their parents, refrain from swearing, never tape themselves having sex, don't steal their friends' husbands and don't Twitter in the middle of the night on meth, really what we want? Nice, earnest, stars devoted to their craft and wanting to do good for their wanted it and now we've all got it. Unfasten your seat belts...the Ferrari is coming to a halt.