Fame. David Bowie wrote a song about it, and he was also the one who said that most of what could be said for it is that it gets you a table in restaurants.
I believe him. Perhaps in my tender youth I imagined it was desirable, but no longer. At least not the kind of fame that means you can't walk in peace. Like one actor said on Actor's Studio, actors are all kind of neurotic, for who needs that much attention?
Anyway, Stephen Fry writes a long, insightful, and often funny essay about it.
Oooh, I just remembered: once I saw on a small Danish television station one of the new breed of "journalists" ("it's all about me") walking around in mixed celebrity company and asking how he would go about becoming famous, because he really wanted to become famous. When he asked one of the grand old men of Danish acting, Ove Sprogø, Ove did not even bother dignifying this idiocy with a reply, he just turned and walked away. Wonderful.
Update: I've meant to mention this before, but now I have a good example...
What does "if not" mean?
Stephen Fry wrote:
"I completely understand that to be well-known is to be blessed with all kinds of advantages. I completely understand that fame is something that many, if not all, hunt after in their lives."
Does Fry mean "many, and perhaps all, hunt after" or "many, but not all, hunt after"?
A celebrity is a person who works hard all his life to become well known, then wears dark glasses to avoid being recognized.
-- Fred Allen
Funny thing about Stephen Fry: even if you did not know his sexual orientation, you might guess it just from the sheer number of times he utters the word "arse" or any of its synonyms. It's just countless, both in his books and on TV.