So I just put a book out: the amusingly titled Finding Jesus, in which you literally find Jesus (aka, widely reconizable public domain character). Out of a wish to not harangue you (believe me, it's taking all I've got to be even this self-promotional) I'll just say that it's a fun novelty book that's basically Where's Waldo? but with amusing cultural references, and you can check it out here, or if you're in the U.K. then look over here. And you can get an idea of the book's artwork in this column, because working on said book got me thinking about other things that are as hard to find as Jesus in a huge crowd of Jesus-looking hipsters. Here now is a selection ...
4A Woman at a Prog Rock Show
Apologies to the women who ARE prog rock fans -- it's not that you're not out there, it's just that you're hard to find. And you might assume it's due to the unconventionally attractive guys on stage playing 10-minute songs about god knows what (and don't get me wrong, I love this shit), but I think that one reason it's so hard to find women at prog shows is because it's so hard to find women PLAYING at prog shows -- or any rock shows, for that matter.
I'm guessing that it's tied into the whole vicious cycle of women who rock and/or roll not getting radio play, so they can't get traction, so they can't inspire other women, so they can't break the dudelock (that's a deadlock involving dudes). It's really, really hard to find a rock station that will play new albums by female rockers, because they literally won't play female rock music, except for maybe Heart and Joan Jett (source: a female rock band I talked to who were told that to their faces).
So that's one reason why there aren't more female rock bands that you've heard of. Did you know that it's really, really hard to find reasons to not go mental and run screaming into the woods because of how shitty radio is for this reason (among others ...)? A good radio station is hard to find because radio is part of the reason why there are no women at or playing at prog shows. You think women can't prog? They can prog with the best of them, and always have. They just don't get the airplay.
3A Video Game Character That Isn't an Angry White Dude With Brown Hair
It's not news that every AAA video game ever seems to star the same goddamn gruff, muscly white guy with brown hair, but it's unfortunately easy to find reasons why this should be. The fact that most games are made by dudes is the main cause -- much as the tonally repetitive world of graphic novels has the problem of every comic being made by literally the same guy cloned five times. The real issue, though, is why is it so hard to find people who design characters that look different from themselves and/or what's popular?
Dudes: don't be like radio. Don't get into a self-perpetuating loop of creating an audience that's like you by excluding things that aren't like the audience. You can create any sort of character, and even if you do it for arbitrary reasons the audience can and will respond to them. Part of it is we still see people who aren't us as The Other, and we think we can't relate to them. But we're all far more alike than we are different.
Here's a starting point: if you're designing a video game, then, as usual, write a character who is exactly like you. But once you're done, drop all that dialogue into a body that DOESN'T look like yours. If you're intimidated to write someone unlike yourself or can't be bothered with research and empathy, then DON'T write one -- just write a character, because that's what we all are. Devise a personality and then drop it into a body and tweak according to hormones and sociological pressures -- that's what nature does, and you're not better than nature, are you? (Nature has killer bees -- what do you have? Some shitty, similar characters.) If everyone tried that, interesting new video game characters might become easier to find. It'll at least be better than the current situation.