I can relate.
I finally saw “Green Zone” this afternoon. Yeah, I know. A movie that, on its surface, was tailor-made for me, but it took me forever (and getting a Blu-Ray player from my awesome wife for my anniversary) to finally get around to seeing it.
I really dug the film, but I realized that, from the get-go, it doesn’t really speak to a large audience. There’s a lot of military jargon used in the dialogue with almost no explanation, enough that a friend I talked to mentioned he had no idea what the hell the characters were saying. In this case, the filmmakers sacrificed audience accessibility for reality, and I think it worked nicely.
Of course, if they wanted to hit a broader audience, they needed to put in an audience surrogate. You know, someone who doesn’t really know military protocol, or the situation in Iraq, or what a C-BIST is. They had a character who could have done so (the reporter Amy Ryan played), but they didn’t really use her in that capacity.
So here’s my question — how important is an audience surrogate to you in a story? Especially one that puts you into an unfamiliar situation? Do you think it hurts not only the mass appeal, but the story, when no audience surrogate exists? Or do you think it enhances the realism of the story?