Blame Hollywood. Almost everybody in Singin' in the Rain is obsessed with his or her reputation. Don wants to be respected as a "real" actor—not some guy in knickers that pantomimes and pulls silly faces. He also wants Kathy to respect him. Kathy wants Don to respect her right back, and she wants to stop popping out of cakes for a living. Lina wants to be straight-up adored, and the studio wants to protect her from looking like a doofus. This idea of status, or prestige, being super-important is central to Singin' in the Rain, and it goes hand-in-hand with another of the movie's themes: lies and deceit (see our page on that here). All of the main characters are willing to lie their tanned Hollywood faces off if they think it will win them respect and/or boost their reputations.
Questions About Respect and Reputation
Why is dignity so important to Don?
It's pretty clear that Lina doesn't respect R.F. Do Don and Cosmo respect R.F.?
How do Don and Kathy show their respect for one another?
What's more important to have: respect or a good reputation? Do you have to be respected in order to have a good rep?
Chew on This
Don's relationship with Kathy is what causes him to finally lead his life with dignity.
Lina has no respect for anyone, including herself.