The portrayal of modelers in the media

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Ralph, Sep 5, 2003.

  1. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Matt's recent post about the Doonesbury cartoon referring to model railroading got me thinking. The strip WAS funny but I began to wonder if all media portrayals of model railroaders have us as warped folks with arrested development, oddly distanced from the rest of the "normal" world? Unfortunately my memory of media images isn't helping! Gomez Addams, the wild eyed train layout opertor who intentionally runs two trains toward each other just before blowing up a bridge! (OK, funny but wait....)
    The father on the former "Ellen Degeneres show" who was pictured with the obligatory engineer's cap running a simple oval and calling out station names. Rev. Lovejoy, the doleful minister on "The Simpsons" cartoon shown virtually the same way. A VERY strange movie called "Track 29" starring Christopher Lloyd as the bizarre owner of a nice layout but otherwise a completely freaky guy.....

    Any one have other examples of how we tend to be pictured, either positive or negative? Let me say that I DO have a sense of humor but I also like a sense of balance as well. :)

    One of my favorite train humor images from my childhood was a poster I bought from Railroad Model Craftsman. It was a cartoon illustration by Seaward Tuttle (gotta love the name!) showing a goofy engineer. The caption read, "Hi! I'm Melvin. Run me to Chicago!" It was a take off of an airliner ad, in case you don't recall the "Fly me to..." series of TV ads

    Enough I alone here? :eek:
  2. zeeglen

    zeeglen Member

    Unfortunately, yes. The movie "Throw Mama From the Train" showed the semi-moronic character of Danny DeVito playing on the floor with an oval of track dinging the crossing bell every time the 100 mph train made a circuit. And in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" the somewhat brighter but still 'a little odd' Richard Dreyfuss character ran his trains around, again at about scale 100 mph.

    On a brighter note, the comic strip 'For Better or for Worse' has dentist and dad John as an avid model railroader. One of the 'Collections' books has the humorous story several pages long of how John got into the hobby (was very despondent one day over having turned 40 and decided to buy a little toy for himself. Then with one trip to the hobby shop got bitten hard by the RR bug).
  3. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    In one of the Inspector Morse mysteries, there is a very spoiled character who berates his mother for not having picked up his brake van from the hobby shop.
    And where are the shows that make fun of people who watch other people kicking around inflated pieces of rubber?
  4. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    I don't remember the title of a movie with Peter Ustinov as a nutty Arabian monarch. (Jeff Goldblum had to rescue Shirley McLaine from his harem. Or Shirley had to rescue him as a shot-down U2 pilot??? Hmmm... my brain's holes are getting bigger all the time :()

    Anyway: In the Sheiks palace there were O scale tracks everywhere along the walls with (you guessed it) 100 mph trains. Of course they roared by at the silliest (or most romantic) moments, spilling the fun for the actors - an adding some fun for model train lovers :)

  5. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    Can't forget the movie"Nothing But Trouble" with Chevy Chase, Dan Akroyd and Demi Moore.The scene where they are sitting down to eat and a lionel train pops out of the table to serve condiments for the hot dogs"The way they used to make them before night games" Who can forget the "pickle shooting flat car".
  6. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Lynn Johnston, who writes that strip, based the character in part on her husband, who has a fantastic outdoor large scale railroad. I saw pictures of it at the June club meeting, as some of the guys had gone to visit him at their home in Northern Ontario.

    See: for the bio of the character.

  7. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    There is also an article in this month's MR about that layout.

  8. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Sadly most non modelers sees us as immature adults that like to play with"toys" or trying to relive their childhood..(LOL)

    During a Christmas open house at the club I had a kindly elderly lady to ask me how long does it take us to put our toy trains and layout away before we go home? I said Madam,the layout and model trains stay up all year long.She looks shocked and then says you mean to tell me you guys play with your trains all year and not just during Christmas? I then tried to explain to her that Model Railroading is a hobby and this is a model train club..She says Well,I guess all man at boys at heart. :eek: I said ma'am,we have ladies that are members of the club also as well as their husbands..She looked shocked (again)and says will I never heard of girls playing with boys toys before after they become adults..I thought to myself Lady what the H*** do you think we are kids? :mad: I excuse myself and walked away before I did say something foolish.
  9. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    I remember a movie, where the Man & woman were in bed & the Lionel train that started moving was his "Alarm Clock" :)

    Not bad at all!! :)
  10. Bill Stone

    Bill Stone Member

    My thoughts on the subject:

    1] I suspect that "making fun of" model railroaders is probably no worse than the flack or misunderstanding about other hobbies. Most bird watchers and stamp collectors are characterized as nerdy little twits, and the few I've known were not that at all. From another direction, the general public tends to perceive all motorcycle riders as Hells Angels types, all hunters as bloodthirsty gun nuts, and all owners of sailboats as either over-rich playboys or rugged world voyagers.

    2] All prejudice is rooted in ignorance.

    3] But I'll admit that I've met a few wierd, nerdy, outlandish model railroaders and know that there are enough of them around to perpetuate the misconception.

    4] I've grown accustomed to people looking at me with obvious doubts about my sanity or maturity when I mention that I am a model railroader, and long ago learned not to give a damn about what they might think. Found that attitude healthier for my whole life anyway.

    5] I am not a model railroader to improve my image, gain friends, become famous, or get rich. (All goals that seem to consume many in the "general public.") I am in it simply because it is what I enjoy doing. No other reason, and I have no other needs from it.

    Bill S
  11. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    Ummmmmmm, we not? :D :D :D

    I think the real world understands that we are in fact not as most of the media has portraysed us, but more like

    doo doo doo doo, snap snap, doo doo doo doo, doo doo doo doo, doo doo doo doo, snap snap

    The Adams family!

    doo doo doo doo, snap snap, doo doo doo doo, doo doo doo doo, doo doo doo doo, snap snap

    Yooooooou Raaaaaang?
  12. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    Bill - This is a GREAT POST!!!!!!!!!! IMHO

    We had a Business Seminar 6 years ago. The Instructor was sitting in the audience before it started. The CEO of our Company was sitting but he would get up & greet us as we came in. When we were all there, The CEO asked us if we could PLEASE keep something secret (the other Half of the company was going the next day).

    We all promised we would (And we did too). He said that he had a man who wanted to talk to us about local history. The man stood up & introduced himself. he was in blue jeans and a No Collar T-shirt, Sneakers & Black Socks.

    If you didn't guess by now, He WAS the Instructor. His first words??: "Hi, I'm John.... I would like you to understand something about the History of Business. Every person you meet, you make up a story about them in your mind before they even speak. I'm your Instructor today. Let's get down to work."

    Best Dang Speaker we ever had!!!!!!! :) And yes, I still try not to Judge people! :)
  13. zeeglen

    zeeglen Member

    Some very insightful postings here.

    There are wierd, nerdy types in all walks of life - and these folks have hobbies too. Ham radio comes to mind - most are normal types but i have met a few of the 'somewhat strange' types. Also the stereotyped 'computer geeks' - but think of what they have done to our way of life in the last 20 years. This forum might not exist otherwise.

    Any form of recreation or endeavour other than staring at the boobtube is a target for humourous charicature, be it the biker, butterfly collector, mad scientist, or the sports fisherman (remember those Wall Street Journal ads?). Poking a little fun at anyone perceived as 'more different than average' is a human trait and is milked by the media. But it's these types of people that have created the technological society we live in today. I'm sure it was some unknown technological 'geek' who invented the wheel many thousands of years ago.

    As for Lynn Johnston's 'For Better or for Worse' portrayal of model railroading, the last strip in the series sums it up beautifully. When John tells his wife Elly how much he is enjoying his new hobby, he says there is this little kid inside him that wants to play again, and that he doesn't think we ever grow up, no matter how old we get. Then asks if that is a silly thing to say? Elly responds with "No, you just have to be mature enough to admit it."

    And that goes for ALL types of hobbies and recreation. Have fun!
  14. jimmybeersa

    jimmybeersa Member

    Those jealous people out there who think we are a crazy bunch....Dont have a Hobby!!!
    My daughter-in -law says I am the oldest kid on the block....maybe she is right.......second childhood?
  15. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    Jimmy, I'd rather call it 'perpetual childhood'. :D

    So many people are burdened so much by their everyday stress that they (perhaps subconciously) get envious about all the people who are happy with a hobby. That's why they try to belittle all that what these others do - be it model railroading or stamp collecting or watching birds or... or... or...

    At least I observed that my colleagues at work, who like to scoff about my hobby and bring forth nothing but silly remarks, are exactly the 'earnest' and 'serious' types who never find time to do anything else but work. They nearly always look miserable, and they only laugh when they make zany remarks about somebody else. Poor guys! :( :( :(

    That's why I'm proud to confess, that in some way I really try to stay like a child: Stay open to everything new, try everything, keep your fantasies. And all this you can get at model railroading - create a world of your own and be happy with it. :) :) :)

    In an always crazier world, at least this is not the worst straegy to survive with a healthy mind! :D :D :D

  16. McFortner

    McFortner Member

    Ah, that would be Arthur with Dudley Moore. The opening scenes had him waking up in bed with a hooker and his O gauge train running around.

    Still, the character in the beginning of the movie is not the most positive image for a train buff.... :O


    ps: hey, it's one of my favorite movies....
  17. Catt

    Catt Guest

    I have met some of the most wonderful Human Beings God ever created in this hobby. Unfortunately I have also met some of the biggest jackasses that God has created in this hobby too. Fortunately none of them (the jackasses) are on this forum.:D

    It takes all kinds of people to make this world go round and I gave up trying to change people's minds about my chosen hobby years ago.
  18. N Gauger

    N Gauger 1:20.3 Train Addict

    And lets see - Doesn't Overstress lead to "short lives"?? All work & no play!! :D :D :D :D
  19. Another 'bad' view of Model Railroading

    the comedic candidate for California Governor: Gary Coleman is a model railroader.

    On one of the reality shows 'Celebrity Date' he took the 'lucky' woman to a model train club, as the date!

    Made him (and many Model Railroaders by inference) look like hopeless, never-get-a-date types
  20. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Anybody seen "A Mighty Wind"?:D :D :D

    It's a "mockumentary" that throws some really funny jabs at lots of "artsy" types, including model railroaders!

    On the homefront, let me describe myself, & my two neighbors living on either side of me...
    We are all family men, with wives & children, we have many varied interests, sports, cars, hunting, fishing, playing music, watching movies, etc...we like to sit out in our backyards, drinking beer, & cooking BBQ...y'know, just regular American guys!
    We also have these "nerdy" of us is a bird-watcher, one of us is a model railroader, (guess who? :D) & one of us like to make stained glass windows!

    It's just an outlet...I think the stereotypes are way off!

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