BA: I know the one you’re talking about, but I never made that connection. [Laughing] I should just lie and say, “Yes, it was.” That’s a great episode. And you’re right, The Twilight Zone reference. [Vanishing on 7th Street] is a contained story, all occurring on one night, and it has the gimmick of this blackout as a motivating factor. And just the weirdness of it [feels like] The Twilight Zone. I love that show. Those kinds of stories are very compelling. I think when Tony was writing [Vanishing on 7th Street], and certainly when I was pondering it, The Twilight Zone was in the back of our minds.
JR: Well, I just have one more question to close up. We’ve been seeing this apocalyptic atmosphere in cinema quite a bit lately. Do you think there’s something in the pulse of society right now that is fascinated with its own demise?
BA: There does seem to be something in the air now. We’re kind of morbidly fascinated with our own destruction. I don’t know if it’s something to do with terrorism or climate change or just the fact that now with all the great digital technology we can literally envision a world [being destroyed] like 2012. We have the technology now to realize awful scenarios. I don’t know if there’s a specific obsession with “end of the world” stories in the here and now. As a species, we’ve always been interested in what happens when we’re no longer around, all the way back to Revelations in The New Testament. But certain movies tend to be dwelling on that theme recently.
JR: It’s an interesting point you make about technology. We had the technology to destroy ourselves back in the ’50s, but now have the technology to simply envision our destruction. Maybe movies are just a safer play.
BA: Well, our lives have become so structured and we spend so much time in front of our computers or tapping away on our iPads. Our lives are so dominated by technology now that we need bigger stories, bigger bangs, bigger explosions to let us escape our routines. Maybe that’s why these big blockbusters have become even bigger blockbusters. It can’t just be an asteroid the size of New York City, it has to be an asteroid the size of the moon. It’s not just the end of the world, it’s the end of the universe. We’re so obsessed with our technology that we need these stories to momentarily escape the droll of being chained to your computer screen.
JR: Brad, thank you so much for your time.
BA: Good talking to you.
I turn off the speakerphone, hang up the call, and push pause on the Garage Band project. I plug in my headphones, open a Word document, and restart the interview. As I begin typing, the computer seems to snicker, You know you need me.