Everyone wants to be respected, but the people who put their lives out there for pop media consumption have even more at stake than the rest of us.
Here's Riggan's problem: he's been glorified as an acting superstar, but he doesn't exactly get respect. All the critics think Mike is a fantastic actor who has real talent; Riggan's just the dude inside the bird costume.
The Birdman franchise has left Riggan in a pickle—he doesn't want to be Birdman anymore. This is why Riggan writes, directs, and stars in a Broadway play: he has to earn the respect and rewrite the reputation he has lost as a celebrity.
Questions About Respect and Reputation
Is Birdman right? Would Riggan be able to regain the respect and admiration of the country if he hopped back in the bird suit?
Why is Riggan so concerned about being remembered by the world? Is this something his life of celebrity has taught him or is it an innate desire we all feel?
Is all respect made equal? Compare the respect Riggan wants from critics or the media to the respect of his family.
Chew on This
In today's world of mass media consumption and social media connectivity, prestige has taken a backseat to popularity. Being popular is just so much more valuable and easy to monetize.
The battle between prestige and popularity is that of internal and external worth. Being popular means knowledge of you is valued by many people, but being prestigious means you have truly accomplished something worthwhile regardless of acclaim.