Erasure is violence. Ever, always, being justified: “The director said she made the changes so as ‘not [to] show them.'”
Sun Yung Shin is the voice in the piece. She is a writer and educator living in Minneapolis where she co-directs the community organization Poetry Asylum with poet Su Hwang. When The Beguiled was released in 2017, she was part of a conversation about the whitewashing of its narrative and the violence of erasure that is justified everyday.
The 1966 novel had a black female slave as a supporting character, whom director Sofia Coppola removed from the film; and for a biracial character from the novel, she cast white actress Kirsten Dunst.
Garrett Tiedemann: Forever there…
Sun Yung Shin: What is complicated about it?
Archive Tape Adult Man: Let’s see if we can explain it. [Fact of communicating] You an I have a coat of armor that protects our bodies from the outside world. It’s our skin.
Archive Tape Young Girl: Who is it?
Archive Tape Adult Man 2: Tissue.
Archive Tape Adult Man: But, did you know that you really have two skins.
Sun Yung Shin: Probably in this…moment. The hatred of women is surging. Certainly the discourse of misogyny seems really prevalent with our new administration unleashing and giving people permission.
Archive Tape Young Girl: What?
Archive Tape Adult Man 2: Is one of the most deadly and elusive enemies ever faced by man.
Archive Tape Adult Man: Body juices flow and withdrawn into the head. Never to be seen or used again.
Sun Yung Shin: So I think, you know, Sofia Coppola is at the intersection of all these things that people are interested in. You know, the Coppola cinematic inheretance. Here being a young, wealthy, beautiful woman. Her making films that have been reasonably successful that have women protagonists. And then this film, at a time when we are increasingly or maybe the same as ever divided on whether racism exists or is morally right; for her to take on this civil war, post-civil war film and people it only with white women, make them what’s interesting in their sexual intrigues and competition and whatever else is cooking in this film. But, erasing black women’s bodies, erasing black labor, erasing the cause of the war, erasing what enabled these white women to live as white women - keep their dresses clean and all that - does seem appalling to me, it’s really truly appalling to me and I got very upset about it.
Archive Tape Young Boy: Alright!