Report: Oscars Venue Removes Elephant Statues over Obscure Racism Concerns

Elephant topped columns and an arch with Babylonian images framing the Hollywood sign in the distance are seen inside the Hollywood & Highland shopping center on August 7 2020, in Hollywood, California. - The center is getting a makeover and will lose the elephant and the arch, references to DW …
Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images

Hollywood & Highland, the retail and theater complex that also serves as home to the annual Academy Awards, has reportedly removed the statues of large white elephants that have presided over the venue for two decades due to concerns that they are racist.

The Los Angeles Times reported that construction crews began dismantling the two white, fiberglass elephants on Thursday. The elephants were being removed along with the complex’s other Babylonian-style decor, all of which were created as an homage to D.W. Griffith’s silent movie classic Intolerance. 

D.W. Griffith also directed the infamous The Birth of a Nation, which is set during the Civil War and Reconstruction, and portrays the Ku Klux Klan in a positive light. The Times described Birth of a Nation as “one of the most racist movies in Hollywood history.”

It is apparently this connection that led to the removal of the elephants.

“This is a real opportunity to move away from the clichés of Hollywood, red velvet ropes, and big studios. The Hollywood of the future really needs to stand for something that is more inclusive of what our culture looks like today,” said Chad Cress, chief creative officer for DJM, one of the new owners of the venue.

Hollywood & Highland has served as the home of the Oscars since 2002. The main ceremony takes place in the Dolby Theatre — formerly known as the Kodak Theatre — while the Governor’s Ball is set in the complex’s Ray Dolby Ballroom.

DJM and co-owner Gaw Capital Partners are planning a massive overhaul of the complex that will include new landscaping and an enlarged outdoor space, as well as more modern decor. The venue will be renamed “Ovation Hollywood.”

The developers have also removed the sculpture “The Road to Hollywood,” according to the Times. The sculpture featured a walkway that led up to a chaise-longue, which some have interpreted to be a casting couch.

“It’s hard to look at it and imagine anything different,” Cress told the newspaper. “It’s time to create new monuments for the town.”

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