Austin Butler Just Perfected the Art of Shutting People Down


And that’s part of the expression’s charm—it leaves you more confused, less offended. Imagine an alternate universe wherein Butler simply responded, “Pass,” or, “I don’t want to get into it,” or, with a cold air of indifference, had simply turned to stare at his publicist, who was expected to interpret this stare as a cue to intervene on his behalf—which is a real response from a real celebrity I encountered once during an interview. 

I’ve since begun using the phrase in everyday conversations, because it’s the perfect way to shut down an unwanted line of questioning while remaining cordial. Dad wants to talk politics? “Sorry, I’m not interested in debating you right now, but thank you for providing the space.” Nosy coworker wants the tea? “That’s not something I’m willing to discuss, but thank you for providing the space.” Boyfriend wants to know what’s wrong? “I’m fine, babe, but thank you for providing the space.” 

The phrase tricks the other person into believing that they were being generous, when in reality they were perhaps being a pain in the ass, which leaves them confused, but—importantly!—not insulted. And it works every time. 

I thought about reaching out to Butler for this piece, to glean more insight into the genius of his reply, but in the end, I chose not to. We all know what he would say—and that would be the end of that. Thanks, Austin, for providing the phrase.



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