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You try’na gas­light me?

Aus dem Notiz­block des Übersetzers…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ hat­te die­ser Tage einen Arti­kel mit dem Titel »Trump is gas­light­ing us – again!«, der sofort eini­ge Erin­ne­run­gen weck­te. Zunächst natür­lich mal an einen der gro­ßen Psy­cho­thril­ler, Gas­light (Das Haus der Lady Alquist), der die Welt lan­ge vor Hitch­cocks Psycho das Schau­ern lehr­te. Und dann natür­lich, als Spe­zia­list in Sachen ame­ri­ka­ni­scher Slang, das Wort gas­light­ing selbst, das sich von die­sem Film ablei­tet, in dem Charles Boy­er die arme Ingrid Berg­man sys­te­ma­tisch in den Wahn­sinn zu trei­ben ver­sucht. Und obwohl gas­light­ing damit durch­aus fins­te­re Absich­ten impli­ziert, die über »täu­schen«, »durch­ein­an­der­brin­gen« oder »irre machen« weit hin­aus­ge­hen, sind die ers­ten Zita­te in mei­ner Daten­bank durch­aus nicht ernst gemeint. Es zahlt sich übri­gens aus, Jahr­zehn­te lang mit Block & Stift fern­zu­se­hen. So habe ich denn auch eini­ge schö­ne Zita­te aus ganz gro­ßen Seri­en bei der Hand:

I just don’t remem­ber sig­ning this.
Well, who’s to bla­me if you have amnesia?
Aw, don’t give me that amne­sia bit.
I remem­ber see­ing this last night at the poker game.
What poker game?
Radar, did­n’t we play poker last night?
If you say so, sir.
Oh, I get it. You’­re try­ing to gas­light me, right?1

Hier ver­su­chen die übli­chen Ver­däch­ti­gen in der TV-Serie MASH den armen Colo­nol Bla­ke irre­zu­ma­chen. Das­sel­be Spiel­chen erlaubt sich Roz in Frasier mit ihrem gleich­na­mi­gen Chef:

Frasier: Roz. KACL Talk radio, 780 AM. (off air. He goes into Roz’s area)
  Roz, I’m so sor­ry. Your name was right the­re in front of me and
  I just could­n’t put my fin­ger on it.
    Roz: Oh for­get about it. I alre­a­dy have.
Frasier: Well it’s been hap­pe­ning to me a lot late­ly. Last night I walked
  into the kit­chen and I just stood the­re, I could­n’t remem­ber what
  I’d gone in the­re for.
    Roz: Don’t make yours­elf cra­zy over it, it’s com­ple­te­ly nor­mal. Oh,
  by the way, you hair sty­list cal­led to con­firm your appointment.
Frasier: I made an appoint­ment with Timo, I don’t remem­ber that.
    Roz: That’s ‘coz you did­n’t, I was just gas­light­ing you. 2

In einer ande­ren Epi­so­de von MASH nimmt man sogar Bezug auf den Film:

Charles Boy­er was try­ing to dri­ve Ingrid Berg­man cra­zy in Gaslight.
The light’s going dim!
No, it’s not. You’­re crazy.
Now, she knew she was­n’t going cra­zy. The audi­ence knew she was­n’t going crazy.
And this French guy is try­ing to have her put away! Now I’d like to know why!
All right, she had a Swe­dish accent, but we’­re still tal­king about an Ame­ri­can citi­zen here.3

Wie auch immer, obwohl to gas­light bereits in den 1950ern in die­ser Bedeu­tung benutzt wur­de, dau­er­te es gerau­me Zeit, bis es Ein­zug in die Wör­ter­bü­cher, selbst in die Slang-Wör­ter­bü­cher, fand. Hier der ent­spre­chen­de Ein­trag aus dem guten alten Chapman:

  gas­light v To decei­ve someone sys­te­ma­ti­cal­ly : He set me up and has been gas­light­ing me [1950s+; fr the 1944 movie Gas­light, in which a man attempts to dri­ve his wife mad by caus­ing her to mis­trust her sen­ses]4  


Einen recht maka­bren Scherz schei­nen die Jungs von Stee­ly Dan in ihrem Song »Gas­light­ing Abbie« von ihrem 2000er Album Two Against Natu­re  im Sinn zu haben:

What will it be some soot­hing herb tea? / That might be just the thing
Let’s say we spike it with Delu­din / Or else, may­be tonight a hand of solitaire
Fla­me is the game / The game we call gas light­ing Abbie

Let’s keep it light, we’ll do a fright night / With blood and everything
Some pun­ky laugh­ter from the kit­chen5

Der Arti­kel auf unter­schei­det sich inso­fern von den vie­len Fund­stel­len, als die Autorin Aman­da Mar­cot­te genau­er auf Bedeu­tung und Her­kunft des Wor­tes eingeht:

»Most peo­p­le who’ve been in abu­si­ve rela­ti­onships have endu­red the “gas­light­ing” expe­ri­ence, which is when an abu­ser tri­es to distort a victim’s per­cep­ti­on of reality.
Here’s how it typi­cal­ly goes: The vic­tim con­fronts the abu­ser about his abu­se, whe­ther it’s phy­si­cal or emo­tio­nal. Rather than accept respon­si­bi­li­ty for his beha­vi­or, the abu­ser then tri­es to turn the tables on the vic­tim by making fal­se accu­sa­ti­ons. (The term ori­gi­na­ted with the 1944 film “Gas­light,” with Ingrid Berg­man as a wife being dri­ven slow­ly ins­a­ne by her husband.)
Typi­cal­ly, the abu­ser will accu­se the vic­tim of being “cra­zy” or “para­no­id.” The­se qua­li­ties have the advan­ta­ge of being slip­pery and ill-defi­ned; they can be used lite­ral­ly or as meta­phors. To make it worse, the abu­ser often reser­ves the sole right to defi­ne what con­sti­tu­tes “cra­zy,” making it almost impos­si­ble for the vic­tim to defend herself.
It’s enough to dri­ve one cra­zy. It’s also exact­ly what Donald Trump is doing to the media, with his fake-news deba­te over whe­ther ter­ro­rist attacks are somehow underreported.«


Inter­es­sant ist übri­gens, dass das Verb auch in der Vari­an­te to gas­lamp sb zu fin­den ist, d.h. merk­wür­di­ger­wei­se – dem Dik­tat des neu­en Web-Analpha­be­ten­ums fol­gend – als to gas lamp sb. Und dann gibt es noch den gas­ligh­ter; das ist dann der, der sich des gas­light­ing bedient.

Remem­ber It Was NOT Always This Way. This is new and the pun­dits are just gas-lam­ping you into thin­king this is an accep­ta­ble new norm. I sub­mit it is not accep­ta­ble and tru­ly is dan­ge­rous to busi­ness, pro­fits, and pri­va­cy.6

“Gas-lam­ping” is a cover-up beha­vi­or. If someone is gas-lam­ping you, they have done some­thing immo­ral and they don’t want you to know. Some­thing bad too. May­be even bad enough to land them in jail…7

Ter­ror in Char­lot­te- Who Kil­led Jus­tin Carr? — Who shot Jus­tin Carr? You are right now wat­ching una­po­lo­ge­tic ‘gas lam­ping’ take place, whe­re folks who stood next to this young brot­her Tues­day night whil…8

Und um das Gan­ze noch ein biss­chen zu komplizieren:

Can a fla­me be lit with fla­tu­lence? True. The art of fart-light­ing (or blue-dart­ing, zor­ching or gas lam­ping, as it’s also cal­led) is the prac­ti­ce of set­ting fire to the gases from one’s backside, often pro­du­cing a blue hue.9

Gas-lam­ping:  The  expul­si­on of gas by a per­son in a plank posi­ti­on is pho­to­gra­phed at the moment it meets a source of igni­ti­on.  Popu­lar among teens.  Recom­men­ded only while wea­ring fire retar­dant paja­ma bot­toms.  A “gas lamp” gone awry is cal­led Bruck­heiming.10



  1. MASH 3. 20 []
  2. Fra­zier 1.20 »For­ty­so­me­thing« []
  3. MASH 11.16 []
  4. Kip­fer & Chap­man, Dic­tion­a­ry of Ame­ri­can Slang. Coll­ins, 2007 []
  5. Stee­ly Dan, »Gas­light­ing Abbie« []
  6. Quel­le []
  7. Quel­le []
  8. Davey D’s Hip Hop Cor­ner []
  9. Quel­le []
  10. Quel­le []

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