[Ads-l] Verb form of gaslight used in script of video series "Being the Ricardos" circa 1953

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Thu Dec 23 08:00:58 EST 2021


Ben Yagoda wrote a pertinent article titled "How Old Is
‘Gaslighting’?" at "The Chronicle of Higher Education" website back on
January 12, 2017.

Restricted access requiring registration / paywall
https://www.chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca/2017/01/12/how-old-is-gaslight/

Snapshot of article
https://web.archive.org/web/20170114192601/https://www.chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca/2017/01/12/how-old-is-gaslight/

[Begin excerpt]
The estimable Zimmer wasn’t done. Consulting with Josh Chetwynd,
author of Totally Scripted: Idioms, Words, and Quotes From Hollywood
to Broadway That Have Changed the English Language, which has an entry
on gaslight, he located and watched a 1952 episode of The Burns and
Allen Show called “Grace Buying Boat for George.” (It’s a tough job
but somebody’s got to do it.) Zimmer wrote, “At 16:20 in the YouTube
video, Harry (Fred Clark) says to Gracie, ‘Give him the gaslight
treatment!’ and then explains what that means. A bit later you hear
George say, ‘So they sold Gracie on the gaslight bit.’”

Still no verb, you’ll notice.
[End excerpt]

Hence, Sorkin's version of Lucille Ball would have been fine if she
had said "Don't give me the gaslight treatment."

Garson

On Thu, Dec 23, 2021 at 6:44 AM Stephen Goranson <goranson at duke.edu> wrote:
>
> Jack Benny spoofed Gaslight in Autolight, reportedly.
> https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0613533/
> Storyline
> This show is a spoof of the famous Ingrid Bergman vehicle Gaslight, for which Bergman won her Academy Award, with Jack taking Charles Boyer's job trying to drive his wife crazy. There is also a very funny radio version with Ingrid herself in the role. It's a natural story to turn into the broad satire so welcome to see in early television
> ….
> Trivia<https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0613533/trivia/?ref_=tt_trv_trv>
> Jack and Barbara Stanwyck originally performed this Gaslight/Autolight skit on the radio in October 1945 and again performed it live for TV in the series 2 episode Gaslight (1952)<https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0613572/?ref_=tt_trv_trv>. It was so popular that Jack filmed it in June 1953, with the intention of airing it during series 4, but was unable to present it until he legally settled with MGM over the right to satirize their film Gaslight (1944)<https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0036855/?ref_=tt_trv_trv>. MGM claimed copyright infringement, and a fee was paid to the playwright and to the film company.
>
> Compare:
> https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_United_States_Patents_Quarterly/fN5KAQAAIAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=%22to+gaslight%22+psychology+OR+insane&dq=%22to+gaslight%22+psychology+OR+insane&printsec=frontcover
> [https://books.google.com/books/content?id=fN5KAQAAIAAJ&printsec=frontcover&img=1&zoom=1&imgtk=AFLRE708B_2YCKUbrIuGfucpWDaXeTwYAxV8ubn1NY7ouOlYSyDW6KMxpt_uJKh6OrJz1ScdR5yuXI1oYbIrOzf0xMPzTvvwsyHcPRXJIcwd5YxDf3ll_c3jz2UEcVWiDGuXhtZ26Avb]<https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_United_States_Patents_Quarterly/fN5KAQAAIAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=%22to+gaslight%22+psychology+OR+insane&dq=%22to+gaslight%22+psychology+OR+insane&printsec=frontcover>
> The United States Patents Quarterly<https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_United_States_Patents_Quarterly/fN5KAQAAIAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=1&bsq=%22to+gaslight%22+psychology+OR+insane&dq=%22to+gaslight%22+psychology+OR+insane&printsec=frontcover>
> /
> www.google.com
>
> Stephen
> https://people.duke.edu/~goranson/
>
>
> ________________________________
> From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
> Sent: Thursday, December 23, 2021 4:54 AM
> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Subject: Verb form of gaslight used in script of video series "Being the Ricardos" circa 1953
>
> Amazon Prime Video is currently streaming a series based on the
> relationship of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz with a script by Aaron
> Sorkin. I have not watched this series.
>
> Writer and academic Roxane Gay tweeted about a line spoken by the
> fictional Lucille Ball (played by Nicole Kidman). Gay suggested that
> the phrase “don’t gaslight me” was anachronistic for the early 1950s.
>
> Tweeter: roxane gay @rgay
> Timestamp: 11:21 PM · Dec 22, 2021·
> [Begin tweet]
> In The Ricardos movie, Lucy says “don’t gaslight me” and it’s so
> annoying! There is no way she would have said that in the 1950s. How
> did that get through?
> [End tweet]
>
> Writer Michael Chabon shared Gay's disappointment with the line.
>
> Tweeter: Michael Chabon @michaelchabon
> Replying to @rgay
> Timestamp: 12:54 AM · Dec 23, 2021
> [Begin tweet]
> You are correct. If anyone referred to it to describe a parallel
> situation, they said something like, “It was like in that movie *Gas
> Light,” or,  “I felt like we were in *Gas Light.*. But this kind of
> thing is commonplace (and drives me nuts).
> [End tweet]
>
> "Being the Ricardos" combined incidents that occurred at different
> times according to "Entertainment Weekly". The "I Love Lucy" episode
> depicted in Sorkin's script is based on season one "Fred and Ethel
> Fight" aired in March 1952. The red scare incident depicted occurred
> while a season three episode was being filmed. That episode aired Oct
> 1953.
>
> https://urldefense.com/v3/__https://ew.com/movies/fact-fiction-being-the-ricardos/__;!!OToaGQ!_ARGVZVAZlRM9WMUt4hG-v3mD41Tqtfo8eWXowChXW3jFhQ-lcJeW6T_GWHjQr6d$
>
> The last extended ADS thread on the verb-gaslight topic occurred in
> 2017. At that time the earliest known published citation for the verb
> form of gaslight occurred in 1961. Stephen Goranson found the cite.
>
> https://urldefense.com/v3/__http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2017-January/145920.html__;!!OToaGQ!_ARGVZVAZlRM9WMUt4hG-v3mD41Tqtfo8eWXowChXW3jFhQ-lcJeW6T_GaK7vkdj$
>
> [Begin excerpt from ADS message sent by Stephen Goranson]
> It is also popularly believed to be possible to "gaslight" a perfectly
> healthy person into psychosis by interpreting his own behavior to him
> as symptomatic of serious mental illness. While "gaslighting" itself
> may be a mythical crime, there is no question that any social attitude
> which interprets a given behavior or experience as symptomatic of a
> generalized incompetence is a powerful creator of shame[....]
>
> P. 183 in Culture and Personality by Anthony F. C. Wallace (NY: Random
> House, 1961, First Printing, confirmed on paper).
> [End excerpt from ADS message sent by Stephen Goranson]
>
> J. E. Lighter's "Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang"
> contained a pertinent entry indicating circulation in 1956.
>
> [Begin excerpt from HDAS]
> Gaslight v. [alluding to the film Gaslight (1944) . . .]
> 1956 N.Y.C. woman, age 41: To gaslight someone is to play tricks on
> them to make them think they're crazy. It comes from the movie
> Gaslight.
> [End excerpt from HDAS]
>
> Garson
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - https://urldefense.com/v3/__http://www.americandialect.org__;!!OToaGQ!_ARGVZVAZlRM9WMUt4hG-v3mD41Tqtfo8eWXowChXW3jFhQ-lcJeW6T_GQNaiYMB$
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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