[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 12:09:20 EST 2021


Excellent article, Peter. Thanks for pointing to it.
Garson

Peter Reitan wrote:
> As an unrelated aside, nearly a century earlier, to "under the gaslight" someone once meant to tie them to the railroad track.
>
> "Under the Gas Light" was the play that established the melodramatic trope of rescuing people from the railroad tracks ahead of an onrushing train.  In the original, the damsel rescued the man.
>
> Copycat crimes were sometimes referred to as "under the gas lighting" the victim.
>
> https://esnpc.blogspot.com/2021/04/snorkeys-red-caps-and-railroad-tracks.html<https://esnpc.blogspot.com/2021/04/snorkeys-red-caps-and-railroad-tracks.html?m=1>
> ________________________________
> 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 1:54:08 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
>
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
> 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 =E2=80=9Cdon=E2=80=99t gaslight me=E2=80=9D was anachronistic fo=
> r the early 1950s.
>
> Tweeter: roxane gay @rgay
> Timestamp: 11:21 PM =C2=B7 Dec 22, 2021=C2=B7
> [Begin tweet]
> In The Ricardos movie, Lucy says =E2=80=9Cdon=E2=80=99t gaslight me=E2=80=
> =9D and it=E2=80=99s 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 =C2=B7 Dec 23, 2021
> [Begin tweet]
> You are correct. If anyone referred to it to describe a parallel
> situation, they said something like, =E2=80=9CIt was like in that movie *Ga=
> s
> Light,=E2=80=9D or,  =E2=80=9CI 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://ew.com/movies/fact-fiction-being-the-ricardos/
>
> 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.
>
> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/ads-l/2017-January/145920.html
>
> [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 - http://www.americandialect.org
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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