This 1936 film celebrates maker culture (boys only, please)

Originally published at:


I can’t watch right now, but I assume it has something like, “Woah ho, little missy. If you want to make something, the kitchen it that-a-way.” :confused:

Built and raced a (lousy) car in 1966. FYI, girls were included as of 1971 and won the nationals in both 1975 and 1976 and numerous times up to the present. Not sure how the rules have changed, but back in the day, you were required to use only official Soap Box Derby wheels and axles. There were rules for how the steering and brakes had to be built. Serious entries used a lightweight frame with fiberglass exterior. When you are up on that ramp, ready to be released, all you can think about is “Oh please, don’t let me screw up…”. Fun stuff, and building the car teaches numerous crafting skills.


These days there is much less customization and creativity in the designs. For all divisions (stock, super stock, masters), you buy the official kits ($400 to $600), which include all parts as well as standard pre-built bodies. Nowhere near as interesting as the designs shown in the video.

I believe that they moved to standard kits after some cheating scandals, but as a result they really sucked the creativity out in the process.


They did, and I know about the very scandal you reference:


It gets harder and harder to ignore the frequency and yearning with which the announcer says “BOYS!!”. And it’s not completely clear that “open to all BOYS!! everywhere” covers BOYS!! of other colors. But I guess, if nothing else, it’s a rare sporting event where fat BOYS!! have an advantage.



1 Like

Once again, I highlight the classist, sexist, and otherwise nonsensical implications of asserting something called “maker culture”. I mean, was my grandmother part of “maker culture” because she learned how to cook a dizzying variety of traditional foods over the course of a long life? Or not, because she didn’t use an Arduino or a lathe? What is the hegemonic intent of the mandarins of this alleged “maker culture” (prominently seen here on BB)? To me it seems to me to assert that: (1) certain people have a lock on “making things”, despite the fact that making things is a ubiquitous human activity, (2) certain other people who do not enjoy “making things” (or at least, the specific things celebrated by our mandarins) are useless, unimaginative drones, and ultimately (3) the culture of Silicon Valley, centered around technology and design and available to those who have received elite engineering educations, is superior to the rest of the world, and especially those parts of American life that are not involved in design or high-tech industry.

Once again, I repeat, I hate this word and its intent, please stop using it. All humans make things.

Your argument seems impassioned, but fails to sway me. “Maker” is a self descriptive term some people use for people interested in a DIY hobby. From my experience, this varies WILDLY. It can be ardrino or lathe like you suggest, or welding, or carving, or 3D printing, or prop making or what ever. Some people do it for fun, some out of necessity - because they have to make a fix, as they can’t afford a real fix.

Your specific example sounds like it would fall under “cooking”, which alone can mean a ton of different things too. I mean, your grandma sounds very skilled and experienced. If she called her self a cook, would it mean it excludes other people not nearly as skilled? I’d say no.

Your assertions that the title of “maker” means only certain people make stuff, or only certain people enjoy making things, or one must have a fancy degree are simply false. I haven’t met anyone who considers themselves a maker hold these attitudes. Just the opposite, they agree with you that all people like to make things, that all people are capable of making things, and encourage people to explore and make things.

I really see no difference between this and calling oneself an artist. Usually this denotes that they spend significant amount of time creating art, possibly as their main source of income. Of course this doesn’t exclude the fact that someone might work at an accounting firm by day, but enjoys painting on the weekend. Or that people don’t like to doodle or do other arts, even crafts to create things they enjoy. Same with something like nerd or nerd culture. WTF does that mean? Only nerds can enjoy something like Star Trek? That all nerds like Star Trek? Of course not.


I also have trouble with the term ‘artist’, as I think it is highly compromised, has a lot to do with patriarchy, and gives a place of prominence to the originator of a work that I think is often undue.

But in this case, I can point to a specific institution in Silicon Valley that reifies what I am talking about: Make magazine and its “Maker Faire”, which several BBers have been involved with and whose associated items get promoted here all the time.

Furthermore, I am reacting directly to the term “maker culture” used here, which implies that there is a specific culture of “making”, again, the idea cultivated by Make magazine and the use of the term “makers”. If, as you suggest, “maker” merely means “human”, why do we need the word?

No: “maker” is a term coined in Silicon Valley by people who want to celebrate the fact that people in Silicon Valley have engineering backgrounds.

It’s not that our forefathers were or weren’t “makers,” but that there are fewer makers today that there were in the past. The use of “makers” today celebrates those that choose to use their hands and minds to build something, when it might be easier to simply buy something off of the shelf.

Your grandmother was certainly a maker, as were probably many others in your family due to the fact that to get something you wanted, you often needed to make it. No frozen dinners, no pre-cut & assembled children’s play houses, etc. We have lost a lot of those skills, but there are some people that embrace the challenge of getting their hands dirty and making something.


You are celebrating the class status of people who have received engineering educations that taught them how to “use their minds and hands to build something”, and shitting on people who are not part of your cultural elite and are therefore mere consumers. Decrying the frozen dinner, a product for an overworked population with no leisure time to squander “using their minds and hands”, is also extremely classist. Yes, it would be great if we could all be part of the leisure class, doing things the leisure class loves, but “celebrating” the loves of the leisure class in a time of great inequality is pretty crap.

Don’t be obtuse. People who make things have been around for millennia, and they didn’t require engineering educations. My grandfather never finished high school, but could build or fix almost anything. The same is true for many others. You seem to be looking at things through a very limited lens, which says more about you than it does about people who make things with their hands.


Something like this?


But there IS a “maker culture”, at least how I’ve seen it. People who are really into it making a myriad of things. I live 1800+ miles from Silicon Valley, so maybe the maker culture is different from where you are from. But the Makers Faire here has such a crazy array of interests, furniture making, stone carving, drones, power wheels modding, Tesla coils, Adrino, 3D printing, prop making, sword and armor making, car modding, print making, jewelry making, meshes of art and technology, non traditional music, making yarn out of wool and the wars out of that yarn, robots, making your own video games, etc etc. As I’ve said, the people I have met have a passion for learning and creating, and encourage everyone to give it a go and find their own niche they enjoy.

Sure, things like a magazine present the culture in slick, prettied up bite. All magazines do. Any hobby you are into will generally have the more interesting people and aspects highlighted.

This is the same as there being a gamer culture or a nerd culture. Hell even something like German culture. What does it mean? Nothing and everything. Not everyone who is part of the culture adheres to all aspects of it. It doesn’t mean people who don’t consider themselves part of the culture can’t also enjoy those things.

1 Like

When I was a kid I assumed that the whole point of the Derby was to provide an excuse to separate the 11-year-old boys and girls and keep the former distracted (we saw movies about the Derby) while the latter learned about menstruation.

When I was a kid, we weighted ours down w/ melted lead. I have no idea if it was legal, but it sure felt wrong!

Thanks for the info. I was wondering when they became inclusive. I know that by the time I was that age, girls were a big part of the competition.

No, that made her a cook.

Now I cook my meals but I wouldn’t claim to be a cook or an artist because I haven’t dedicated the energy to claim those titles nor do I feel like I have a lot in common with people who claim those labels.

I consider myself a runner. Now most healthy people are able to run and have done some running. But they haven’t run as much as myself or other runners, so they don’t have the same shared experiences or perspectives on running. Which is why non-runners don’t call themselves runners.

“Maker” isn’t an elitist term any more than runner, baker, artist, or reader. It’s a term used to define a shared experience and give people a tense of belonging.

Let’s all smugly look down at these funny old-timers who don’t hold our current progressive values. You know, the drive to pigeon-hole every person into a category and the never-ending parade of victimization. This video is hilarious since there are no left-handed Asians. Where are the accommodations for blind drivers? I sure hope they had inclusive bathrooms. SIlly boys, going off to die in WW2 in 7 years anyway. Serves them right for being so regressive.

I realize the author of this sanctimonious piece is simply projecting her virtue amongst her equally progressive friends by making fun of the hopelessly unenlightened past. I just hope she realizes that in 70 years, her beliefs will be laughed at and mocked as well. Wait, they are being mocked right now. That didn’t take very long.