In 1938 a play called Gas Light ran for a season in London.
It was an eerie production starring Vincent Price as an overbearing husband, who tries to convince his wife that she’s going insane by manipulating small elements in their home and when she points them out he tells her she’s delusional. Why? So he can creep around in the upstairs apartment to search for a murdered woman’s jewels.
But the wife clings to her only shred of reality: the gaslights in her home, which dim when in use upstairs. Yes, she might almost be convinced that she is only imagining the footsteps in the apartment above, but she can’t deny the stone cold reality of her gaslights flickering.
The term ‘gaslighting’ has been reappropriated in recent years, often in a domestic abuse situation, to describe the manipulation of a partner in an attempt to weaken and control.
But Teen Vogue’s Lauren Duca has applied the concept to Donald Trump and America, and it couldn’t be more perfect.
America is in a strange place right now.
It is Trump vs. The Media, and whilst from afar we're all shouting, "Don't believe him! He's the crazy one!" there is no doubt that for many Americans, they are having moments of doubt. Maybe Trump really is right? Maybe the media is wrong?
Lauren Duca is among many writers fighting to push her readers back into reality, campaigning for logic in her article, Donald Trump Is Gaslighting America.
"Trump won the Presidency by gas light," she writes. "His rise to power has awakened a force of bigotry by condoning and encouraging hatred, but also by normalizing deception."
In other words, he has told so many lies in such flagrant fashion that he is beginning to convince the public that it's the truth.
The list of mistruths and deceptions Trump has fed America both leading into and following his election to President is long and laughable.
Duca is quick to point out there are now so many, the public is becoming desensitised to their seriousness. Like the long-suffering wife in Gas Light, Trump's audience are being battered down by his insistence that it's not him, it's them.
The lie-list of Donald Trump is endless, and Duca doesn't hesitate to highlight some of his more outrageous claims.
"Clear-cut examples of deception include Trump saying that he watched thousands of people cheering on 9/11 in Jersey City (police say there's no evidence of this), that the Mexican government forces immigrants into the U.S. (no evidence), that there are "30 or 34 million" immigrants in this country (there are 10 or 11 million), that he never supported the Iraq War (he told Howard Stern he did), that the unemployment rate is as high as "42 percent" (the highest reported rate is 16.4 percent), that the U.S. is the highest taxed country in the world (not true based on any metric of consideration), that crime is on the rise (it's falling, and has been for decades)..."
And on and on it goes.
With a list this long, it would be hard to believe that one man can maintain so many lies.
"The gas lighting part comes in when the fictions are disputed by the media," writes Duca, "and Trump doubles down on his lies, before painting himself as a victim of unfair coverage, sometimes even threatening to revoke access."
In other words, I'm not the crazy one. You are, for believing that the media has you in their best interest. After all, don't some of Trump's lies make sense? Don't they perhaps echo something in your own beliefs, or fears, or aspirations?
To quote the wife Paula Alquist Anton in Gas Light - "Suddenly, I'm beginning not to trust my memory at all."
Trump is in: Be prepared with 3 simple products. (Post continues after video)
Whilst Trump is a bully with a long list of targets, one of his favourites has to be the media.
And his timing couldn't be more perfect: he's chosen to question and undermine an entity already on the cusp of being pushed off it's perch by social media and online bloggers. The 'traditional journalist' writing for the 'traditional publication' is not the powerhouse of trustworthy information they once were.
Fortune magazine is quick to point this out in their November article, President Donald Trump vs. the Media Will Be an Epic Battle.
"What does that future look like?" they write.
"It looks like a pitched battle between a man who made his own media rules and rode them to victory, and a traditional press that has lost much of its power."
Indeed, Trump didn't want or need to court the press in the same way Presidential candidates have been forced to in the past. He had Twitter, and he used that unregulated platform to say whatever he damn pleased.
Here's some of Trump's recent tweets attacking the media:
"There are things you can and should be doing to turn your unrest into action, but first let's empower ourselves with information," Duca suggests.
"Insist on fact-checking every Trump statement you read, every headline you share or even relay to a friend over coffee...Do a thorough search before believing the agenda Trump distributes on Twitter. Refuse to accept information simply because it is fed to you, and don’t be afraid to ask questions."
Truth be told, the world was beginning a slow slide into 'lazy news'.
All of us are guilty for skimming a Twitter feed and absorbing wildly inaccurate news stories as fact. Even if it's not intentional, so much of what we know to be true is actually just fabricated information propagated by social media tactics, and soaked up like a sponge.
Maybe there is a silver lining to Trump's election, and that's forcing ourselves to always question the 'truth'.
Duca closes her article with a rallying call to action:
"As we spin our newfound rage into action, it is imperative to remember, across identities and across the aisle, as a country and as individuals, we have nothing without the truth."