Keep Circulating The Tapes

I suppose it was inevitable… but I had a fleeting thought that we might escape this arc without anyone bringing up the Lisa tapes. Alas, today’s strip has happened. It was a silly thought, really.

Wait, all Les Cayla sent to Marianne was two videocassettes? (apparently) Didn’t Les ask Cayla to send DVDs of Lisa’s tapes? (yes) But didn’t Les also have all of his Lisa tapes on display on the very shelf he just placed Marianne’s Oscar on? (also, yes) But didn’t Crazy convert all of the Lisa tapes to “digital” (and DVD) years ago, negating the need to send any physical media at all? (again, yes) But didn’t the conversion process require Crazy to bake (and likely ruin) the tapes because of their fragility and deterioration? (it did) Beyond that, why is she only returning these tapes to Les now instead of through a delivery company or at the movie wrap party? (because TB has panels to fill)

I suppose the real question here is, did Lisa make a tape about what to do in the event that an actress won an Oscar for playing her in a major motion picture? That might explain why Marianne wound up giving her Oscar away… everyone obeys the Lisa tapes! Sic semper videocassetta!

38 Comments

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38 responses to “Keep Circulating The Tapes

  1. Epicus Doomus

    And of course Marianne Winters is the only twenty-something year old person in the USA who still owns a VCR. Or maybe it’s some sort of hipster thing, like vinyl and cassettes. “The video tape really brings out the graininess and the mushiness of the footage far better than digital video does. Let’s watch “Cheech And Chong’s Nice Dreams” on VHS, the way the director intended it to be seen”.

    I suppose it isn’t too far-fetched that Marianne studied Lisa while preparing for the role, as strict historical accuracy is vital when you’re playing such a pivotal figure in Westviewian history. But that second panel, that look on her face as she hands over the sacred tapes, it’s just way, way too much. Hopefully, the tapes were obliterated by the airport scanning machine, but knowing how Marianne operates, she probably just drove from L.A. To Westview specifically to avoid that possibility. I mean, she GAVE Les her Academy Award, so there’s no way she’d let anything happen to those dusty old videotapes.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      What are you talking about? VCRs are still essential if you want to watch the unspecial edition of Star Wars, and don’t have either a laserdisc player or want to pay through the nose for the Laserdisc transfer available on the limited edition 2004 DVD release.

      • billytheskink

        For many years it was actually the only way to watch some cult favorites, stuff like the Gabe Kaplan-Bernard King basketball comedy Fast Break, which I bought at a weird store that specialized in videocassettes (even old Betamax stock!) over a decade into the era of DVD-dominance.

        My VHS machine is a Magnavox-branded DVD combo that I bought at Sears. There’s an experience you can’t recreate these days!

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          My parents bought a JVC top-loading VCR in 1982. It still works. My mom still uses it. We threw out most of the tapes we originally bought for it 15 years ago, because none of them would play. The player outlived the media.

      • Suicide Squirrel

        My brother gave me a Christmas gift of the first three Star Wars movies (Chapters 4, 5, 6) pirated onto one VCR tape. The tape was one of those BASF T-130 tapes. Six and a half hours at the lowest quality. He gave it to me some time between ‘Return of the Jedi’ and ‘The Phantom Menace’.

        The tape miraculously still plays but is yucky looking compared to what I’m used to, standard-def with mono sound.

        I know the versions Lucas re-did are viewable on TNT, SyFy, etc. but I’d have to have a guide to inform me what the differences are between the versions. I am aware of the ‘Han shot first’ controversy.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          There were some minor line changes that really annoyed me. Like Obi-Wan’s “this place can be a little rotten” about Mos Eisley changed to “rough.” Come on, Lucas, that was a great line. Why neuter it like that?

          Another one was in ESB, when the swamp creature on Dagobah spit out R2-D2, and Luke’s “you’re lucky you don’t taste very good” – which I remember getting a laugh in the theater – got replaced by something painfully generic. Yeah, it was goofy, but it was the right kind of goofy for Star Wars.

          Edits like these seemed prescient: they predicted the uber-serious, unpleasable, no-fun-allowed fan base that Star Wars became.

  2. J.J. O'Malley

    You know, I’ve somehow managed to keep quiet while the bile level in my stomach rose with each day’s new reveal in this arc, but now I gotta speak up. And in honor of today’s MST3K-inspired headline, I’ve also gotta say to Batiuk, “Boss, you’ve broken the goofy meter again!”

    Yes, of course Marianne has zero confidence in her own abilities and talent to think they’re what earned her that Oscar. It was watching a terminally ill lawyer try to dictate the future lives of her husband, friends, and family that helped push her performance up to Oscar caliber. It’s one thing if you’re playing Princess Diana, Tammy Faye Bakker, or Julia Child to study old film footage for the sake of historical accuracy, but no one outside of Westview knows what Dead St. Lisa looked, talked, or acted like.

    Can’t wait to see if Sunday is finally the sideways strip with the movie’s poster art.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Yes, Marianne won as Oscar by modeling her performance after video tapes that Les famously wouldn’t let anyone watch. How does that even work?

      Because appeasing Les is the only thing that matters in this universe. Les was the only person who cared about Lisa’s portrayal (not that he ever did anything to make it better), therefore it is the criteria for Academy Awards. Even though the Academy can’t possibly have been in position to judge this. Or that they wouldn’t care about the accurate portrayal of a non-famous person. Or any of ten other reasons these stupid tapes would be of no value.

      The important thing is that Les overcame his trepidation to share his precious tapes. Even though he’d been showing them to everyone in Westview; the movie was well into filming at that point; he did little else to help her portrayal; and even though this plot point confirms it was selfish of him not to share them. And Tom Batiuk’s usual attitude of “only writing and drawing comic books is actually work, everything else is easy” is on display here too.

      • Charles

        I suppose that tapes like that might be useful to show the disposition and the mindset of the subject less than a month before her death. It’s certainly not a sentiment or circumstance that people would be familiar with. But these tapes didn’t do that. They were just vapid, smarmy pap.

        If Batiuk wanted to change that impression, he could have done a better job over the years of portraying what was on those tapes beyond simple-minded, uninspired messages or smirking jokes. Or he could have simply shown Marianne learning something worthwhile from them. The tapes as he presented them were nothing more than a shallow gimmick. Overproduced to the point where they were all empty over-calculated sentiment.

        I hate giving any credit to the “There’s some found footage in Lisa’s tapes” sequence, so I’ll explicitly note that it’s only in reference to the other pedestrian tape sequences, but at least in that Lisa lost the narrative due to emotion. When she got angry thinking about another woman mistreating her Dear Les she lost control. That’s a vague suggestion of what, since Batiuk was going to make these tapes a “thing”, they should have ALL contained.

  3. Rusty Shackleford

    Ok, I’m out. This is just too weird.

  4. billytheskink

    By this logic, Marianne, you shouldn’t have given the Oscar to Les. You should have had it cremated and scattered in Central Park.

  5. RudimentaryLathe?

    The artwork in P2 is perfectly hideous.
    I can’t try to comment on anything else here or my brain will collapse.

    • Epicus Doomus

      It’s just awful, she looks completely unhinged. And it’s from Les’ POV too, unlike the entire rest of the story. I mean, why? What inspired THAT artistic choice? It’s like she’s in a corny old 3-D movie, where the tapes look like they’re flying straight into your lap.

    • Y. Knott

      Try looking at panel two and adding the Dr. Tongue 3-D sound effect.

      “Would you like to see my … video tapes?” 🎵 🎵 … 🎵 🎵

      Hey, you gotta do SOMETHING to make this crap entertaining.

  6. be ware of eve hill

    The way Marianne was digging into her purse in panel #1, I was hoping the one last thing she wanted to give Les was a bullet in his forehead.

    Stupid panels #2 and #3.

    • Suicide Squirrel

      Not a gun. A restraining order.

      Marianne: “I gave you my Oscar as a bribe. Stay away from me, you sad, creepy little man.”

  7. Sourbelly

    No.

    This is too much. I’m calling shenanigans. This has to be one long Less More wet-dream sequence. His utter failure of a movie somehow garners a Best Actress nomination. Said actress somehow wins the Oscar (almost immediately after she found out she was nominated). Actress then tells the world that Less is the rightful winner of the Best Actress award, with no explanation. Actress flies/drives/crawls to Less’ house and hands him the trophy. Then Actress hands Less the sacred Lisa Tapes that compelled her to win the Academy Award. Which she obtained…somehow (see above comments).

    If it’s not a dream sequence, then clearly Stephen Pastis created a parody of FW. Or, I guess, Batdick’s output has reached a new low none of us thought possible.

  8. Hitorque

    Thanks for asking almost all the questions I was planning to… Saved me a lot of typing…

    1. Why the hell are there just TWO tapes in her bag when St. Lisa not only recorded dozens, she recorded another dozen “special edition limited” tapes and strategically hid them around the house for Lester to find years after her demise? Hell, she even buried one tape under a tree in the yard, which must have been a real feat for a frail, weakened woman in the end stages…

    2. I’m still waiting for Lester to tell Marianne the Fable of the Bird Feeder and for him to *formally* introduce her to Lisa’s Force Ghost because there’s no way she doesn’t make an appearance for such a unique occasion… C’mon Tommy, you know you want to make it happen…

    3. Naturally Summer and her Stepsister (who we haven’t seen in years) are nowhere to be found because who gives a shit about a once-in-a-lifetime chance to meet an A-list celebrity, am I right?

    4. So Marianne Winterse continues to completely eschew her own God-given artistic talents, preferring instead to heap endless praise on Lester, Lester’s book, Lester’s heart, Lester’s dogged determination to “tell the story the right way,” Lester’s salt-of-the-Earth small town Middle American sensibilities, Lester’s dedication to his beloved students at Westview, Lester’s patience, Lester’s forgiving nature, Lester’s humility, Lester’s self-pity, Lester’s earnestness, Lester’s bravery, Lester never compromising his principles, Lester’s inspiring presence on the set, the list goes on…

    4a. How much longer before Marianne starts saying she was literally channeling St. Lisa’s spirit as she was speaking her lines? (And naturally she’ll give all thanks to Lester for this, too)…

    5. And yes I’m disappointed that the tapes were only used to help Marianne understand her character instead of being an integral part of the movie… Because God forbid Lester take advantage of the ONE angle that makes the Saga of Saint Lisa at least somewhat original, interesting and oddly prescient since you might halfway argue that Lisa was doing the TikTok thing before there was even a name for it..

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Summer cannot be present as you wouldn’t be able to tell her apart from Marianne.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      Nelly, I am Heathcliff, said Cathy Earnshaw.

      Pretty scary, says Count Floyd.

      Les, I am Lisa, said Marianne Winters.

      Ooh, that’s so scary I can’t even count the money I made selling 3-D glasses, says Count Floyd.

  9. Hitorque

    Oh, and yes — “I GOT THAT REFERENCE!”

  10. bill

    I would love to leave a pithy or sarcastic reply. But, seriously, the only thing I can think about after reading this is. WTF?

  11. Maxine of Arc

    I give up. You win, Batiuk.

  12. Jeff M.

    I’ll be “that” moving image archivist and point out that in fact, “baking” tapes is a long-standing practice for handling older audio, video, and computer tapes – even if it does sound like some lame attempt at a Crazy “stoner” joke. Tapes absorb moisture and the oxide layer gets sticky, so you put them in a very low RH/relatively low (about 150 F) environment (a food dehydrator is actually ideal) for 12 + hours and they have “dried out” enough to play back – temporarily. So TB did do at least a tiny bit of research about this. But he didn’t scroll down far enough to learn that tapes don’t get “brittle” – they get sticky!

    Which is entirely irrelevant since Les gave Marianne *DVDs* not tapes! That mistake…well…I didn’t throw anything but I really really wanted to….

    • batgirl

      There are other reasons the Dead Lisa tapes would be sticky … and I don’t think a dehydrator would fix that.

  13. Gerard Plourde

    Sadly, it comes as no surprise that the sacred tapes make an appearance here despite the fact that that a major story arc involved their contents being transferred to a digital format. Just too sloppy.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      True Lisa followers know that VHS is the only correct format to receive instruction.

    • hitorque

      Nevermind the fact that the freaking movie studio has an army of technicians who could have put the videos in digital format, improved both the sound and the quality and she could have FedExed them back to Lester in a day or two…

  14. The only thing missing from this arc is an appearance by Ghost Lisa

  15. Mela

    And there it is. While I was hoping to avoid the “Good thing I watched those tapes” moment, I had already resigned myself to the knowledge that it was coming. Because that really is the center of it all, isn’t it? As others have pointed out, LA burned so that Les could save her and be compelled to allow her to view the tapes (DVD’s-whatever). So panel 2 is perfect-a POV shot with the Oscar winner handing him back the tapes because really, everything is from Les’ point of view.