The giant white elephant statues at the Hollywood and Highland Center, a popular tourists’ destination in Los Angeles, are in the process of being taken down this weekend. The Los Angeles Times reports that the statues, which overlook a plaza of the center featuring many shops and restaurants, are being taken down because of their association with “Birth of a Nation” filmmaker D.W. Griffith. The statues are part of the center’s tribute to the Babylon set from the director’s 1916 film “Intolerance,” which Griffith made in part in response to criticisms over the racist stereotypes depicted in “Birth.”
“All of the faux Mesopotamian elements will be taken out or altered in favor of a design developers hope will be more timeless as part of a $100-million makeover of the mall announced last year that is set for completion next summer,” the LA Times reports.
Los Angelinos have previously called upon the center to remove the elephants because of their homage to Griffith.
“This is a real opportunity to move away from the clichés of Hollywood, red velvet ropes and big studios,” Chad Cress, chief creative officer for co-owner DJM, told the LA Times. “The Hollywood of the future really needs to stand for something that is more inclusive of what our culture looks like today.”
The LA Times reports, “Next year the complex will be renamed Ovation Hollywood, meant to signal that it is a place to find entertainment and culture. A prominent arch with Babylonian images will be converted to a modern take on Art Deco style with murals of people performing before lights and cameras on one side and a crowd applauding on the other.”
Also being removed is a sculpture called “The Road to Hollywood” by artist Erika Rothenberg that, for some, evokes an image of a casting couch. The sculpture was temporarily moved in 2017 in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, but then returned to its place.
“It’s hard to look at it and imagine anything different,” Cress said. “It’s time to create new monuments for the town.”
The elephants are being removed at night so as not to interfere with tourism.