I have a beef against Paris Hilton. Besides the fact that she's famous and has no discernable talent, she's also corrupting and influencing an entire generation of girls and young women. Suddenly, it's hip to be dumb. It's appalling that girls will put themselves down, dress like little hussies, and put their brains and common sense on vacation-- all to emulate a "celebrity."
At some point, our culture went from mocking Paris Hilton and her superficial ways to celebrating them and copying them. It seems that no one knows exactly why this transition occurred either. No one will openly admit to admiring Paris Hilton (maybe her cash, but not her), yet more and more trends, culture references, and styles can be attributed to her or those like her. Even her new music video, "Stars are Blind," is a celebration of mediocrity: forgettable singing, bland beach sets, mindless prancing, etc. Apparently, with enough money, you can force yourself into popular culture.
It's not that there's a lack of better role models (Gwen Stefani, Sofia Coppola, Angelina Jolie). Unfortunately, I think it's something different that explains Paris's appeal: She's lazy and her life's been easy. Her life has not been full of hard work, and young girls would love to live that fantasy life. She's an American princess, crowned by the youth that worship her.