People have been turning to drug dealing and donating blood to remain afloat amid the recession, so it's probably natural that some parents are trying to make ends meet by forcing their kids into acting and modeling in the hopes of turning them into mini-ATM machines.
The Wall Street Journal reports that some kids' modeling agencies have seen the number of applicants rise by 50 percent over the past year. The only problem is that the chance of a Culkin-like happy ending is more unlikely than ever, since advertisers and film/TV companies have been busy cutting back on their budgets.
As for whether subjecting kids to the cruel realities of show business will end up damaging them psychologically for decades to come, yes, there's that issue, too. Although if parents didn't do that to them now, who's going to be willing to go on cable reality TV shows 20 years from now?