Oscars 2016: The 'elephant in the room' will be banished from this year's ceremony

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The Independent Culture

This year's #OscarsSoWhite controversy hasn't entirely fallen on deaf ears at the Academy. Though acting nominations may not feature a single non-white face, the institution was, in the least, quick to respond to criticism and push forward with change; announcing plans to double female and minority memberships by 2020

Yet, during her speech at the annual Oscar Nominees Lunch, Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs set aside the controversy to state (via The Hollywood Reporter); "This year there is an elephant in the room. I have asked the elephant to leave. Today is all about your incredible work on the screen and behind the camera that has touched millions globally and earned you a place in Hollywood history."

Indeed, though Boone Isaacs may attempt to lock the issue out of this year's ceremony, there was an irony in her words echoing across a room outside of which The Guardian reports dozens of protesters had gathered. It's an elephant which cannot be banished from the minds of those who have spoken out, by the boycott initiated by Jada Pinkett Smith, soon joined by her husband Will Smith.

As much as the Academy may attempt to quiet the situation, much of the conversation amongst lunch attendees is reported to have focused on the issue of diversity. Nominee for Creed, Sylvester Stallone, told reporters in the press room that he had asked the film's writer-director Ryan Coogler whether he should boycott the ceremony since neither Coogler nor star Michael B. Jordan were nominated. 

"I said, 'If you want me to go, I’ll go. If you don’t want me to go, I won’t.' He said, 'I want you to go,'" Stallone stated. "Because that’s the kind of guy he is. He wanted me to stand up for the film. I really do owe everything to these two young men."

The lunch, instead, attempted to swerve conversation towards other topics; with a change in the acceptance speech format announced by producers David Hill and Reginald Hudlin. Thank yous will now be scrolled along the bottom the screen, allowing winners to speak, "from the heart about the art, about the vision, about the experience, about the meaning of the moment."