Review: Stuck Rubber Baby

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Stuck Rubber Baby
by Howard Cruse

★★★★½

2010 (originally published 1995) • 210 pages • Vertigo

The backlash against Selma has taken many forms—witness those irate thinkpieces (gag) and the whitest Oscar race in decades (double gag). All for a film daring to not only ignore the White Savior complex, but actively reject it by focusing on the work of a black community. As if there’s such a difference in the liberties taken with countless period films featuring white casts! I can’t comment further, as I haven’t seen Selma. I want to, obviously. As the New England winter digs its claws in before March, it’s harder and harder to get me out of the apartment and into a movie theater.

As a rejection of the White Savior complex, Stuck Rubber Baby is, of course, no Selma—its protagonist is the young, closeted, and white Toland Polk living in a Birmingham, Alabama analogue called Clayfield during the sixties. Through his determined-to-be-straight involvement with Ginger, a progressive college student, he gets swept up into the civil rights movement. But the always hesitant Toland is hardly a hero: his involvement is scattered, although dedicated. In fact, there’s no real heroes here—people who do more than others, certainly, but mostly just people, trying to do the best they can. (It’s got that slice of life approach in common with Alison Bechdel’s work. Bechdel provides the introduction here.)

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Review: A Flight of Angels

A Flight of Angels by Holly Black, Rebecca Guay, Louise Hawes, Alisa Kwitney, Todd Mitchell, and Bill Willingham

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Remember when angels were supposed to be the next big thing in young adult paranormal romance, on par with vampires? Instead, the trend has largely kept itself contained to Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments and Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush series. Angels aren’t much of a presence in the former, although their descendants are; and Hush, Hush is a shining example of rape culture. On top of that, vampires and werewolves come pre-loaded, as it were, with teenage sexual angst—first blood, uncontrollable body hair, and strange urges. Angels, on the other hand, have grander concepts tied up with them, especially the fallen variety—knowledge, agency, and power.

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