People Don’t Love This

today’s strip

Okay, we get it. China China China. The sole reason Lisa’s Story can’t be made is because the Chinese can’t appreciate true art. Why did we need a SECOND week to hammer this point home?  I would love if someone in this strip just came out and explained why the Chinese can’t appreciate the beauty of Lisa’s Story, but of course that would take effort and possibly be controversial.
“They Are Them” is just a terrible “parody” or whatever you want to call it of “This Is Us”. It sure sounds like a Cold War paranoia thriller, or a body-snatcher movie. It’s also pretty much nonsensical and something I don’t think anyone’s ever said. Also, Mason, This Is Us-sorry, They Are Them-is a TV show. Movies are different than TV shows. American Idol was huge. The same concept as a big budget movie would be terrible.
Why is Les at these meetings again? Mason is incapable of convincing anyone to make this movie, and Les is just sitting there quietly. And he’s probably getting paid for this, somehow.



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

43 responses to “People Don’t Love This

  1. William Thompson

    Keep it up, Batiuk! If you keep giving China the credit for killing the Dead Lisa movie, you’ll heal US-China relations and–dare I say it?–win the Nobel Peace Prize.

  2. Banana Jr. 6000

    None of the four word bubbles in this strip have anything to do with each other. Beijing! Feelings! High-concept! “They Are Them”! See, I put them in a different order and it makes no difference.

  3. Christopher Robin


    When I guessed maybe we were going to see a bunch of producers give different reasons to turn the project down / reveal themselves as not right for the job, I was just plain giving this dense motherfucker too much credit. No, he’s just gonna keep hammering on China. Ugh.

  4. Gerard Plourde

    We already know that TomBa doesn’t know the meaning of “high concept”.

    And we also know that whether “Lisa’s Story” plays in Beijing is irrelevant since it would enjoy “Cats”-The Movie box office numbers just about everywhere.

  5. The only place “Lisa’s Story” would play and find an audience is Hell.

    • William Thompson

      That’s understandable. After watching that movie, the rest of the place would look a whole lot better.

  6. Christopher Robin

    Knives Out? Never got made.
    The Irishman? No studio in Hollywood would touch it.
    Rocketman? Judy? Harriet? Kicked to the curb.
    A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood? More like a bad business day in Beijing!
    Little Women? Marriage Story? The Two Popes? Pipe dreams!

    Man, it really sucks how Hollywood literally never produces anything but high-octane action blockbusters.

    • justifiable

      It actually…um…doesn’t. No studio in Hollywood would touch The Irishman – Paramount and STX dropped their backing because the CGI “de-ageing” required made it too expensive. Scorsese went to Netflix to finance and distribute it.
      The Two Popes? Marriage Story? Netflix again. Harriet and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood were partially or entirely financed by a Chinese company. Rocketman languished at Disney for almost 20 years – Paramount and New Republic Pictures financed it in exchange for the worldwide distribution rights. Judy was made by a French/British consortium.
      Knives Out is an outlier, which is ironic given that it’s the sort of old-school, ensemble, mid-budget film Hollywood used to make before they went blockbuster franchise-happy. Lionsgate is one of the few studios that hasn’t gone that route. These types of films are no longer cash cows, so studios no longer consider them to be smart investments. Due to their cast budget, they aren’t indie-film cheap, yet they still carry considerable financial risk. While CGI blockbusters have even larger budgets and potentially greater risk, that also means the potential returns can be enormous – and China-dependent Hollywood sees that as more of a sure thing.

      • Christopher Robin

        Um… okay, so… if we pretend, within the fiction of the strip, that Lisa’s Story is a good example of a tragic romance, then… doesn’t that mean the strip has been portraying Hollywood’s attitude (though not their actual office procedures) exactly right for the last two weeks?

        • justifiable

          It’s been portraying large studios – up to a point. Disney/Fox 2000 produced The Fault In Ourselves, which was a huge mainstream cancer teen romance picture. They also did Bridge of Spies and Hidden Figures, totes not CGI franchise blockbusters. Smaller, independent production companies make films like Harriet and – New World Pictures, which financed it, also has a co-financing deal with Universal Pictures. It doesn’t mean they insist on making all the films they invest in China-friendly. I’m pretty sure Victoria and Abdul and Mary Queen of Scots didn’t have any pro-Chinese plugs.

          For some inexplicable reason Todd has Pitchmeister Masonne, WHO’S ONLY STARRED IN CGI BLOCKBUSTER EPICS, go to Beijing-focused production companies for financing, although I can assure you one that’s responsible for My Dog Pookie has absolutely fuck-all chances of showing anything in China, so he shouldn’t care what this film will do.

          Scorsese wasn’t shy about telling Hollywood what he thought of their making only theme park rides, which I’m sure had nothing to do with The Irishman getting zero academy awards. But Hollywood’s been CGI and franchise-happy for decades even before the Chinese market opened up – marketing drove most of their decisions, so it ain’t art, it’s always been bean counting that rules. Pirates of the Caribbean literally was a theme park ride film, was completely marketing tie-in driven, and never grossed a dime in China – but later installments in the franchise did.

          • Hitorque

            The Irishman got shafted by the Academy… I’d already lost whatever respect I had for the Oscars ages ago but it was still disappointing.

  7. justifiable

    What sort of fucking idiot do you have to be to have supposedly written this shit a year ago and not ONCE checked to see that “high concept” means what you think it does? I can see Todd’s monolithic ego assuring him that it means whatever he wants it to mean, which is highbrow and so goddamn lit’ry that only he could bring it to the masses – but he supposedly has a sycophantic editor who at some point might want to consider that words don’t always mean what her moronic boss says they do.

    “High concept” films require a unique premise, mass audience appeal, and an obvious potential. They’re idea and/or event-driven rather than character- driven. They have to have something special about them to overcome the “so what?” factor. There’s nothing original or special about just watching someone die of cancer, and God knows it’s far from appealing.

  8. Epicus Doomus

    F*ck you BatHack and f*ck your China obsession too. Just face reality, man. No one’s ever making your creepy cancer book (which isn’t really a book at all but just a collection of previously released comic strips) or your idiotic bus driver character into a movie. They won’t play in China, they won’t play in Chino and they sure as shit won’t play in Chattanooga either, because they suck and no one cares. Enough with the Batiuksturbation already.

  9. Christopher Robin

    • justifiable

      LOL, I love these! But Masonne wishes – it’s 34 “foreign” films total that China lets in. The US has to compete with the rest of the world for those slots.

  10. billytheskink

    This Is Us They Are Them is the aspiration of Lisa’s Story? A show about a never-ending parade of cartoon anvils appearing in the sky and maudlinly crushing its characters week after week?

    Sounds about right. Key difference between the two, though, is that the popular NBC television series that is totally not being referenced here is well written enough to manipulate its audience’s emotions into more than just anger and annoyance.

    • spacemanspiff85

      This is what Batiuk doesn’t quite get. I love just about any kind of story, if it’s well written. I never used to read mysteries or romance stories, but if they’re written well, I do like them. Batiuk’s stories aren’t written well.

  11. William Thompson

    It is just so prescient of Batiuk to have foreseen the present crisis and done his best to make it worse. He may yet receive a footnote in the history books–or even a full chapter, if the title is “Idiocy and the Start of the Nuclear War.”

    • justifiable

      So much for all that humblebrag on his blog that “Story will get us through this.” “Story” – like Savior Todd somehow owns the entire entity and is bringing it down from Sinai to magnanimously distribute among us.

  12. Doghouse Reilly (Philadelphia)

    “They Are Them”…Is that the TV series about a diverse range of people whose seemingly unconnected lives intersect when the civilized world is attacked by giant, radioactive ants brought up to the surface by underground nuclear tests? I love that show!

  13. Hitorque

    Repeating yesterday’s comment since it’s still relevant: I’m convinced this weirdo along with Frick and Frack last week are stringing Les along and trolling the hell out of him as retribution for that KILL FEE fiasco a few years back, only Masone+Les are too oblivious to pick up the joke.

    2. What is it with Batuik and Communist China being the gatekeeper of all entertainment media?

    3. At this point Les has to just pull the plug, right? After all, he clearly never wanted this project to happen anyway… I think Les just loves any excuse to get out of Ohio and have industry people pretend to treat him like a big shot for the first 90 seconds…

    4. It’s clear we’re heading towards “Only someone from Westview can properly make a Lisa movie!” So who’s it going to be?

    5. Why does Les refuse to talk about Lisa’s videotapes? Given how apeshit everyone is over reality tv, this is the one REAL hook he has that makes his story unique.

  14. Paul Jones

    Once again, we substitute paternalism and ethnic slurs for a genuine reason why the blasted thing wouldn’t play in Beijing. The only objection I could see them having is “Wait…..he didn’t sue the lab for screwing up the tests?”

    • justifiable

      Now if Lawyer Lisa had sued the hospital while she was dying of cancer, Lifetime Movie Channel Bad Decisions Studios could clean up with a courtroom scene where, right before she collapses and goes into a coma, the jury awards her a bazillion dollars, ensuring that her ghoul of a husband never has to write a book about how all this is really about him!

      Oh, wait…

    • Professor Fate

      no he didn’t. I remember the author did put in a half hearted attempt to explain that which came down to ‘I don’t want to” it’s part and parcel of the whole problem with Lisa’s story – woman has re-occurrence of cancer gives up and dies slow painful death while husband is the one who suffers – there is also a letter opening subplot and the introduction of Masky McDeath who until we met the talking murder chimp was my favorite FW character. There is nothing in it but a misery wallow unleavened by any real human emotions or wisdom. For this he wanted an award? And he still thinks of it as the finest moment in comic strip history. Bah…the Calvin and Hobbes arc about the baby racoon dying was so much better it’s not even funny.

      • justifiable

        I fucking cried when that raccoon died and I don’t care who knows it. Masky McDeath was so trite that I was just disgusted.

  15. comicbookharriet

    Great post today Spaceman Spiff. But I did want to point out that they made a big blockbuster American Idol movie. It was called ‘Sing,’

    The secret was, (and the secret always is,) animated talking animals. You can make just about any weird esoteric nonsense or grimdark horror flick you want and sell it to children as long as it involves animated talking animals. Don’t believe me? Chicken Run is about slaves trying to escape from a death camp before they’re all murdered. The Angry Birds Movie is about an isolated community trying to prevent colonialist forces from devouring their children.

    Isle of Dogs is about xenophobia and fear in the face of a deadly virus created by a corrupt government that uses it to capture, contain, and attempt to exterminate undesirable groups while disenfranchising dissent by revoking the status of citizens. You know….kids stuff.

    • Professor Fate

      There was also an live action American Idol Movie called “From Justin to Kelly” it was insanely bad

  16. louder

    Next week: Jessica and Cindy take over and produce and direct “Love for Lisa”, with Cindy and Jarrhead in the lead. Premier is in Cancerville, film becomes a surprise hit. Oscar night falls on the 50th Anniversary of Funk Weakerbean, “Love for Lisa” wins best picture, Less wins an Oscar for best screen writer, he then makes a speech and announces this is the end, he and the comic are retiring, the next-to-last panel is of Less holding an Oscar, final panel is Lisa looking over the Oscars from heaven. The End.

  17. Count of Tower Grove

    “Play in Beijing?” I didn’t know a world capital is a backwater. How about “will it play in Wuhan?

  18. Count of Tower Grove

    Larry Storch turned very Chinese-looking today.

  19. Jimmy

    If he described They are Them as a franchise, then I could buy it as movies, but to me, he’s comparing it to a Netflix series that people binged over a four-week period and then forgot about it.

    Wasn’t the first iteration of this movie greenlit by the Batiuk equivalent of the Hallmark Channel? That’s where it belongs, but I am growing more and more fearful that my prediction of Les winning an Oscar is going to come true.

  20. The Merry Pookster

    But… will it play in Peoria?

  21. Rusty Shackleford

    Batty, stop blaming the Chinese. Your story sucks.

  22. Professor Fate

    The response to that question is: Lisa’s Story is a turkey in any language.

  23. Batgirl

    Did the Chinese printers screw up the printing of Les/TBs Last Leaf book? Is that what ticked him off?

    • Perfect Tommy

      I was thinking poor artwork on a pre-production animated series.
      “No no! The goatee is all wrong!!

  24. Charles

    The only thing that gives me pause from saying this story has gone completely into Crazytown is Les’s looks as Mason in both panels. His face appears to suggest that he has now realized that Mason’s a god damn idiot, and he never should have given him movie shopping rights to his literary masterpiece. And he’s also realizing that his agent/attorney (wtf) didn’t pick up that Mason is this god damn idiot, so Anne Apple’s a moron as well.

    I mean, it’s obvious from these strips over the last two weeks that Mason hasn’t prepared at all for these meetings. He had no idea what they were looking for, which is something substantially different from what he was offering. And when they raise one issue that’s not effusive praise, Mason immediately goes to pieces and starts babbling. Not one of Mason’s lines indicates a guy who gave even the slightest thought to how he was going to respond before he found himself in this situation.

    Anyway, another thing that shows Batiuk has no idea what he’s doing: There is no way this meeting would only have the one producer, Les, and Les’s pet Hollywood star present. That’s just not how multi-million dollar deals get struck.