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 Post subject: "World's Most Famous Railfan" on BBC News
PostPosted: Fri May 24, 2024 11:18 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 11602
Location: Somewhere east of Prescott, AZ along the old Santa Fe "Prescott & Eastern"
"The World's Most Famous Railfan" (well, at least online) garners a BBC News interview.

https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-69053034

Has anybody here seen this guy's videos besides me? On the one hand, he brings a lot of publicity to rail enthusiasm. On the other hand, his shtick is absolutely wince-inducing, seemingly all but set out to confirm every last negative stereotype of intelligent but autistic, developmentally-impaired individuals as rail enthusiasts. It's not helped by the freaky, fisheye-lens videos of his grinning face as trains pass. (Well, the article and some of his videos show a living, breathing girlfriend who's very easy on the eyes, so likely that's all an act for the cameras. . . . or she's our heroine.)

At least one of his videos I blundered upon detailed a chase of a steam special, with maps and graphics showing the progress of both the train and the chase vehicle (he wasn't driving).


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 Post subject: Re: "World's Most Famous Railfan" on BBC News
PostPosted: Fri May 24, 2024 1:15 pm 

Joined: Tue Mar 03, 2020 5:36 pm
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That fish eye lens pointed down at his face that he loves to use so much just weirds me out in ways I can't figure out. Personally, I don't like his stuff, but to each their own.


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 Post subject: Re: "World's Most Famous Railfan" on BBC News
PostPosted: Mon Jun 03, 2024 5:01 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 1612
If you don’t love him the correct response is “ok boomer” - seriously the guy is brilliant, fun, and makes rail-fanning interesting to the general public. The comments about his girlfriend are all kinds of creepy but that’s to be expected.


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 Post subject: Re: "World's Most Famous Railfan" on BBC News
PostPosted: Tue Jun 04, 2024 5:37 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 11602
Location: Somewhere east of Prescott, AZ along the old Santa Fe "Prescott & Eastern"
There are two ways to look at this guy's video productions, and "okay boomer" is only one of them.

Yes, he brings attention to the hobby of railfandom. He does help explain and highlight such enthusiasm to non-railfans. He's somewhat fun and delightful, and he has legions of "followers."

The other approach: He makes all of us that like trains LOOK autistic--oh, sorry, "neurologically divergent"--whether what he's doing is a contrived act or not. There are undoubtedly people who watch him just to laugh at him and his antics (and, by extension, us?).

We went through some of this a decade or so ago when the character Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory was depicted, however clumsily and inaccurately, as a railroad buff. Maybe it brought much-needed publicity to the avocation--but they used one of the most off-putting characters on television to do it. And, just like "Francis Bourgeois," there are people who love that show and people who hate it, and it's fair to say they both have something of a fair point, pro or con.

There's any number of such programs and programming that become a similar double-edged sword. Almost any time a producer for a television show shows up at a heritage railroad for a "documentary," you run the risk of being presented completely "off-message," be it a travel series, a PBS "what to see in your state" show, or whatever. We can all say "there's no such thing as bad publicity" (and certainly the Nevada Northern's Mark Bassett would agree, seeing their "engineer for a day" program shown on TBBT), but if all they ever show of you is that Thomas or Polar Express event, and none of the history or effort, what have they really shown? A Disneyland attraction?


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 Post subject: Re: "World's Most Famous Railfan" on BBC News
PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2024 6:37 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:52 am
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Location: Strasburg, PA
Off-putting, yes, but very funny, and they do the best they can on research, much better than the average show for the general public does when it comes to railroading.

https://youtu.be/KSXP8tkWdtM?si=IH4ij-W-62ZbZDvN


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 Post subject: Re: "World's Most Famous Railfan" on BBC News
PostPosted: Wed Jun 19, 2024 12:29 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 1612
Alexander D. Mitchell IV wrote:
We went through some of this a decade or so ago when the character Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory was depicted, however clumsily and inaccurately, as a railroad buff. Maybe it brought much-needed publicity to the avocation--but they used one of the most off-putting characters on television to do it. And, just like "Francis Bourgeois," there are people who love that show and people who hate it, and it's fair to say they both have something of a fair point, pro or con.


Off-putting? He was the most famous character on the show and it resulted in an extremely successful spin-off "Young Sheldon" where the character is also very interested in trains.


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 Post subject: Re: "World's Most Famous Railfan" on BBC News
PostPosted: Wed Jun 19, 2024 4:12 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 11602
Location: Somewhere east of Prescott, AZ along the old Santa Fe "Prescott & Eastern"
Crescent-Zephyr wrote:
Off-putting? He was the most famous character on the show and it resulted in an extremely successful spin-off "Young Sheldon" where the character is also very interested in trains.


By all means, it was a successful show, giving the decade and the ratings on broadcast TV.

But look around, and you will find as many people that loathed the show and the characters as fans (as well as a decent number that never watched and never got an opinion). You'll find the same forces at play with just about any major character and/or major popular TV show or entertainment--Jerry Seinfeld, Gordon Ramsay's cooking shows, Donald Trump on The Apprentice (and in the White House), Taylor Swift, Carrie Underwood, talk-radio hosts, Monty Python's Flying Circus, you name it.

There have been books written about the specific appeals of The Big Bang Theory (and other shows, from Star Trek to Cosby to Twilight). Essentially, you have to be of a certain mindset to enjoy some more esoteric shows--such as having actually been exposed to such dysfunctional yet high-intelligence individuals to understand TBBT, or understand what aspects of urban life are being satirized on Seinfeld, or 1960s British life were mocked on Monty Python..
And if you don't "get" what aspects of "railfandom" are being spoofed on TBBT with both Sheldon and his new-found friend aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train, then he just looks like even more of an anti-social, asexual, dysfunctional dweeb than before. And the type that don't "get" that are very likely to just assume that, by extension, anyone who likes trains is like that. It may be stupid and bigoted to think that way, but you know what they say about "half the people are below average" (save for the farce that was Lake Woebegon).


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 Post subject: Re: "World's Most Famous Railfan" on BBC News
PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2024 1:54 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2020 12:17 pm
Posts: 95
I can't help but think of railfans who are more well known.
Neil young,
Rod Stewart,
Michael Palin,
George RR Martin,
Michael Gross (the last two own stakes in shortlines)

I'm sure there are younger ones, that I can't think of, right now.


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 Post subject: Re: "World's Most Famous Railfan" on BBC News
PostPosted: Tue Jul 16, 2024 1:32 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 11602
Location: Somewhere east of Prescott, AZ along the old Santa Fe "Prescott & Eastern"
scratchyX1 wrote:
I can't help but think of railfans who are more well known.
Neil young,
Rod Stewart,
Michael Palin,
George RR Martin,
Michael Gross (the last two own stakes in shortlines)

I'm sure there are younger ones, that I can't think of, right now.


You forgot Walt Disney. And UK recording industry magnate Pete Waterman.

All of the above are famous among the public for things that have nothing to do with railfanning and/or model/toy trains.

All of the above have had their "side hobby" highlighted in articles and bios as just that: a side hobby. "Francis Bourgeois" is famous ONLY for being a "foamer," "trainspotter," "anorak," whatever we want to call it.


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 Post subject: Re: "World's Most Famous Railfan" on BBC News
PostPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2024 10:42 am 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 1612
By the way - he does have a mix of more serious videos as well. It was the fish-eye lens and the goofy antics that got him the crazy number of views - but he has some serious videos as well where he just talks about the rolling stock, history of the line, etc.

I think he has a nice balance of being silly / entertaining and sharing actual historical facts.


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