"Interruption is such a familiar form of disrespect. To be interrupted - in a meeting, in a casual conversation, on a presidential-debate stage - is to be told, with blunt efficiency, that your voice is not as important as the voice of the person who is talking over you. It is to be informed, through the prevention of the words you are trying to utter, that you matter just a little bit less. Welcome to the club, Joe and Chris. The water’s warm, and deeply condescending." - Megan Garber for The Atlantic
Interrupting is the word of the week, following Wednesday’s absolute shit show of a US presidential debate (largely described as the worst debate of all time) and our own “robust” leaders’ debate which felt positively jovial in comparison.
In the US, Donald Trump and Joe Biden went head-to-head for the first time, with moderator Chris Wallace losing control of the debate within minutes. The two men talked over each other, interrupting - or heckling, in the case of Trump - to the point where it was near impossible to follow what was going on or being said.
Let me just insert this relatable meme here:
Here, Patrick Gower led a strong and entertaining leaders' debate between Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins with some great one-liners - “It’s not age, it’s ideology, and yours is outdated” is pretty much ‘OK boomer', and absolutely brilliant.
Both debates here and in the US were a masterclass in interrupting - the good, the bad and the absolutely bonkers. A few classic moments of butting in, for when you’re feeling fed up:
“If I may.”
The ‘be kind’ of a debate, and Jacinda’s preferred tactic. She used it a lot. Polite, professional, but maybe not so persuasive.
“If I may model some good behaviour for you.”
Politeness that’s slightly riled up.
“Deep breath [insert name here].”
Jacinda’s line to Judith when she was talking passionately about, you guessed it, the RMA. Quite condescending but effective - if someone said this to me it would stop me in my tracks and incite rage.
(Judith’s “what for, dear?” would too)
A ploy favoured by Judith Collins, often joined by a smirk, shaking of the head, eye roll or raised eyebrow. Again, very condescending, but maybe not so productive if the cameras aren’t on you or your opponent isn’t looking at you.
“I hate to raise my voice!”
Uttered by US moderator Chris Wallace in a bid to try and restore some order to the debate between Trump and Biden, clearly a lost cause. This screams of someone trying their best but failing.
“Will you shut up, man?”
Biden to Trump. This is for when you’ve been spoken over countless times, and you’ve given up completely. Somehow, it also neatly sums up the chaotic energy of 2020.