What strikes you when you watch True Stories now?
[Laughs]. I can’t look at it with an objective eye. I see the mistakes, where I feel like, “Oh, that’s a little forced,” or, “That lyric could have been better.” I’m looking at it with a critical eye.
At the same time, I feel like it pretty much holds up. It’s funny how everything the movie talks about — the way the computer industry and landscapes of cities and towns are all changing — are still happening and have been going on since the movie was made. So it’s nice to see that it doesn’t seem that dated.
One thing that has changed though is that you can no longer say, “Shopping malls are the new town squares,” as you do in the movie.
I don’t know if that was my original idea. But yes, it seemed like the shopping malls were hollowing out the local town square and main streets. People were going to the malls and Walmarts and big-box stores instead of the main streets, and now the malls are being repurposed as homeless shelters, incubators and who knows what else.
Your big inspiration for the movie was reading headlines in tabloids. Were you mostly reading Weekly World News at the time?
Yeah, they were all from Weekly World News. They weren’t really in the [National] Enquirer. They seemed to be the kind of thing that Buzzfeed might do now, where they take a legitimate human-interest news story and give it a more interesting title and they would catch your eye. I just kept those.