Michael Minkler and Censorship
“Your attacks are causing harm to my reputation.
If you do not act immediately, legal action will follow.”
– Michael Minkler
On June 23, 2014 sound re-recording mixer Michael Minkler (Chicago, Black Hawk Down) succeeded in getting a negative message board post from 2007 deleted because it “embarrassed” him.
Here’s how it happened.
Let’s travel back to the January 23, 2007 Academy Awards. Michael Minkler won his 3rd Oscar, this time for Dreamgirls. His fellow nominee Kevin O’Connell had just lost after his 19th nomination. Shortly after his Sound category was announced, O’Connell was called away from the Oscars to be at his ill mother’s side, where later that night she died in his arms. Meanwhile, backstage at the Oscars, Michael Minkler had this to say when asked about O’Connell:
“I think Kevin should like, just maybe go away with 19 wins (sic), and we’ll just call it a record and that’ll be the end of it. … I just wonder what Kevin’s trying to do out there by trying to get an award from using sympathy. Kevin’s an OK mixer, but enough’s enough about Kevin. I think maybe he should just take up another line of work.”
Several online sites reported this incident, including Time, InContention and Gawker, and it was widely discussed in blogs and on message boards. Here is a page with several links to articles and blogs written at the time.
On the Straight Dope Message Board, a poster named Equipoise was also upset at what Minkler had said. She posted a heat-of-the-moment rant in “The BBQ Pit” which is an area intended “For rants about the world or beefs with another poster” and serves to keep such material out of other areas of the message board.
This is the original post that was posted on March 1, 2007. All times are CST.
Old 03-01-2007, 03:31 AM
Equipoise is offline
Join Date: Aug 2000
Go straight to hell Michael Minkler! (Sound Oscar winner)
Fuck you fuck you fuck you!!
Yeah I know a lot of people don’t give a shit about the Oscars and I can’t control any “Why do you care?” and “Who gives a shit?” comments, but if you read to the end, you’ll see why I felt I had to Pit this dick.
Sound is one of those categories that people who aren’t really into movies wish the Academy Awards would jettison. I happen to like the Artistic categories and though Sound hasn’t been a top priority for me (usually bombastic blockbusters that I don’t care about get nominated) this year it was a category I was keenly interested in, for two reasons.
First, Apocalypto, my favorite film from last year, was nominated for Sound Mixing and it would have been nice to see it win at least one award.
Two, the nominated sound mixer was Kevin O’Connell, who has been nominated 19 times without a win. That’s not a record, but it’s enough to get him some publicity that was completely outside of his control. The “It’s About Time” campaign for Kevin started (or at least gained momentum) from an essay in Entertainment Weekly from a guest columnist. Other articles elsewhere were written and they all asked him for quotes. He’s a very humble guy and by all accounts a really nice guy. He’s had no bitter feelings about having lost so many times. He always had nothing but good things to say about his fellow sound mixers, and always seemed happy just to be recognized. If he wanted to win, it wasn’t for himself, it was for his mother.
Kevin O’Connell been in the business a long time and is highly regarded. He as 156 credits on his IMDB page, and his first job was as a recording technician on The Empire Strikes Back in 1980. Prior to that he was working as a firefighter when his mom, worried about his safety, talked him into coming to work at her place of employment, 20th Century Fox. He obviously had a knack for sound mixing and has done very well for himself. His mom recently suffered several health problems, including a stroke and a cancer diagnosis, and she had hoped to see him win an Oscar on Sunday night.
The team of Michael Minkler, Bob Beemer and Willie D. Burton won the Sound Mixing Oscar for Dreamgirls. Well, whatever. Kevin will have plenty more chances. What makes me angry is that backstage, during the press interviews, Minkler was an utter asshole toward Kevin (scroll down or search for Minkler).
Could a little rivalry have been revealed in the sound mixing world? Things turned weird when the winners in that category — Willie Burton, Bob Beemer and Michael Minkler for “Dreamgirls” — were onstage in the press room. A question was thrown to the trio about what advice they had for Kevin O’Connell, a nominee for “Apocalypto” who now has been nominated 19 times without a win. While Burton and Beemer had conciliatory things to say — “Hang in there, Kevin, you’ll get your chance,” Burton said — Minkler’s words were the opposite. “I think Kevin should go away with 19 nominations,” he said without cracking a smile. “We work really hard, and if we stumble upon an award, we are so grateful. I have to wonder … Kevin is an OK mixer, but he should take up another line of work.” He exited the stage leaving people wondering whether he was serious.
He was serious…
9:46 p.m.: A reporter asks the Sound Mixing winners for Dreamgirls about Kevin O’Connell, one of the Sound Mixing losers for Apocalypto—and one of Oscars all-time losers, now having been vanquished 19 times. “I just wonder what Kevin’s trying to do out there by trying to get an award by using sympathy,” an absolutely straight-faced Oscar-holding Michael Minkler says. “And Kevin’s an okay mixer, but enough’s enough about Kevin.”
9:47 p.m.: What?!
9:48 p.m.: “I think he should just take up another line of work,” the Oscar-gloating Minkler adds.
9:49 p.m.: Huh?!
9:50 p.m.: Minkler and his team are gone—no chance for a follow-up question.
What an utter and complete bastard! I can see being miffed that someone else is getting all the attention before the awards, and even being asked about that person when it’s your turn to shine, but you’ve WON. You have an Oscar in your hand and the proper thing to do, I would think, is be gracious and polite, and shrug it off with good cheer. Minkler himself has had 10 nominations, and Sunday night’s win was his 3rd Oscar. What the hell? Even his partner blasted him for being such an ass.
He was absolutely sincere with that BULLSHIT. That man has lost whatever respect he had from a ton of people
This probably wouldn’t bother me half as much, except that immediately after the Sound Mixing Oscar was given out, Kevin O’Connell was called away from the ceremony, to the hospital where his mother died in his arms that night.
Many people responded to Equipoise’s post. This is the full thread thanks to the Wayback Machine:
The thread was active for a few days and then went quiet naturally. It was briefly revived in 2012 for a few posts, then went quiet again.
For some unknown reason, seven years after the original posting, Equipoise’s message board post still ranked high in a Google search of Minkler’s name.
On March 13, 2014 Equipoise received this Private Message in her Inbox at the Straight Dope Message Board (kind thanks to Equipoise for the screen shots):
heidib is offline
Hi. I came across a post of yours from March 1st, 2007 Re: the Oscar winner race for Best Sound. Wow. Is it because you wrote it at 3AM and that’s why it’s so outrageous? Do you know these people personally? I do. They have been friends and co-workers for decades and their sense of humor is the basis for that incident. And they both want your post removed. You spend a great deal of your post heralding the career of Kevin…he wants it gone.
He said, “It’s creepy and this person sounds unhinged.”
I am certain you are not like that at all. Your posts are fun & engaging and you have incredible perspective and taste. Why tarnish your online reputation by bashing others in a violent and feverish manner?
I admire your passion for film and I have fun insider movie fodder that I could share with you. But I need to know you are reasonable and won’t use the information in a negative fashion.
BTW, there is an article on Director Lars Von Trier in the new issue of TIME. Even if you are not a fan, it is rather insightful.
03-14-2014, 12:11 AM
Equipoise is invisible
Join Date: Aug 2000
Re: Inflammatory post
I have no idea what you’re talking about, what post or what I said, and in any case, posters can’t request for their own posts to be deleted. Sorry.
As Equipoise later said “I did figure out what she was talking about shortly after I sent the message. I had forgotten all about this thread, since it was 7 frickin’ years ago. Sorry, not even compliments, a condemnation by the guy I was defending, or tasty bribery can change the rules about deleting your own posts.”
Equipoise did not revive the “Go straight to hell Michael Minkler” thread or mention this Private Message to anyone else.
It was later speculated by a few SDMB posters that “heidib” was Minkler’s wife, Heidi Brook Myers.
On April 26, Equipoise received another Private Message, this time signed by Michael Minkler.
I demand that you remove your hateful and harmful comments that you made about me on this site on March 4, 2007.
I have just recently become aware of them because they have made there up the Google ladder to front page position.
You don’t know me or the situation.
Your attacks are causing harm to my reputation.
If you do not act immediately, legal action will follow.
Private Message: Re: Michael Minkler
04-26-2014, 11:32 PM
Equipoise Equipoise is invisible
Join Date: Aug 2000
Re: Michael Minkler
I can not remove any post, not even my own. Only the administrators can remove posts. Take it up with them.
That same day, Equipoise revived the original thread herself to add minklerm’s message, as well as heidib’s. She said at the time “If he does indeed get this thread deleted, I at least wanted others to know what happened. I respect his skill and the movies he’s worked on, but this needs to be public.”
The next morning she also started a thread about the Private Messages in the area known as About This Message Board.
Later that day Equipoise received another threatening Private Message from Michael Minkler.
Re: Michael Minkler
My lawyers are talking to the webmaster.
How about an apology for your 4am damaging ignorant rant.
Equipoise did not respond.
It was obvious that “minklerm” and “heidib” had joined the Straight Dope Message Board specifically to send Equipoise Private Messages.
Links as of June 29, 2014 showing their current status as members of the Straight Dope Message Board (they had to sign up to send the poster a Private Message). This shows that they signed up specifically and only to send the Private Messages.
Within a half-hour of Minkler’s most recent threat, the Straight Dope board administrator locked, but did not delete, both the “Go straight to hell Michael Minkler” BBQ Pit thread and the “Threatened with legal action over a 2007 post!” About The Message Board thread.
Old 04-27-2014, 03:13 PM
Ed Zotti is offline
Join Date: Feb 1999
We have received a communication from an individual representing himself as the injured party. I’m closing this thread pending further discussion. A threat of legal action involving this board is no laughing matter. Please don’t make additional posts on this subject.
Since SDMB posters were forbidden to discuss the topic, other sites did. Among them:
On June 23, 2014 Ed Zotti deleted the “Go Straight To Hell Michael Minkler” thread with the following explanation:
06-23-2014, 02:21 PM
Ed Zotti is offline
Join Date: Feb 1999
In the matter of Michael Minkler
We’re taking down an old thread involving an individual named Michael Minkler. Since this thread has attained some notoriety, we’re providing the following background:
1. In 2007 Michael Minkler was part of a team that won an Oscar for sound mixing. In a press conference after the awards, the team was asked about Kevin O’Connell, another sound mixing nominee who’d never gotten an Oscar despite numerous nominations. Minkler replied, “I just wonder what Kevin’s trying to do out there by trying to get an award using sympathy … I just think maybe he should just take up another line of work.” These comments were posted on YouTube.
2. A short time later an SDMB user posted a rant in the BBQ Pit entitled “Go straight to hell Michael Minkler.” The poster took exception to Minkler’s remarks and called him “an utter and complete bastard.” The post was par for the course in the Pit and did not violate SDMB rules. The thread drew more than 50 responses over the next couple days and then went quiet except for a spate of additional posts in 2012.
3. Despite the passage of time and lack of activity, a Google search for “Michael Minkler” currently brings up the “Go straight to hell …” thread on the first page of results. As I write, it’s the lead item.
4. This has been a source of embarrassment to Michael Minkler. Earlier this year he sent a private message to our user demanding that she remove her post. She said she didn’t have the ability to do so. We also received a message from Minkler threatening a lawsuit. We didn’t reply.
5. A few days ago our lawyers received a letter from a law firm in California representing Michael Minkler, followed by a letter from Minkler himself to me. In contrast to previous communications, the notes were polite, Minkler’s especially so. He wrote, “I am writing to you to ask if you would please consider removing the old threads … My friends and family have seen all this, I have been embarrassed and it seems that whatever fun or satisfaction there might have been in this for the bloggers has been accomplished … I would really appreciate your help.”
6. We don’t normally remove threads but have done so on occasion when we felt there was good reason. In the present case, while we think Michael Minkler got his just desserts at the time, the thread was started seven years ago and until the most recent round of messages had been inactive since 2012. We imagine Minkler has learned his lesson and in any case have no desire to prolong his embarrassment indefinitely. For that reason, and not because of any concern about legal action, we are removing the thread from view. Users are asked to refrain from posting additional comments about this matter.
7. To emphasize, this was a special case involving a named individual and a disparaging post that got unusually prominent play. Had the present request been accompanied by threats of litigation we would not have taken this action. We don’t expect a similar situation to arise any time soon.
One more thread was started at the Straight Dope Message Board after Ed Zotti deleted Equipoise’s thread and posted the above.
Michael Minkler won in his efforts to get the thread deleted. What’s done is done, and can’t be undone, but Michael Minkler shouldn’t get away with his attempts at censorship without a record of it happening.