Dateline: LOS ANGELES-There's a hot new product that's flying off the shelves. It's called Gravitas Jaws and it consists of a crude plastic mandible bone that's worn over your lower jaw like a beard, except that this piece of plastic has the power to force everyone to take you seriously for no good reason. Donna Kerplunker, CEO of Upstart Entertainment, which manufactures Gravitas Jaws, says her R&D department was inspired by female and male TV news anchors alike who typically have chiseled, square jaws, which studies show cast a magic spell on the television audience, forcing the viewers to take the anchors seriously even though the anchors are empty-headed egomaniacs that read from teleprompters and are neck-deep in the dehumanizing business of infotainment.
"We've come up with something very special here," Ms. Kerplunker said in an exclusive interview. "Why let the phonies on TV have all the power and all the fun? Take the power back! Mesmerize your neighbours! It's a riot what a fake lower jawbone can do."
Ms. Kerplunker demonstrated the power of her product, by trying on the Gravitas Jaws. She turned to a group of average Americans and told them some extravagant falsehoods, such as "The sky is green. Two plus two equals five. And American cable news improves society by helping to ensure that the public is made up of skeptical, well-informed citizens who deserve to govern themselves." Surprisingly, none of the viewers scoffed at any of that balderdash and all of them spontaneously declared that were Ms. Kerplunker to lead them into battle, they'd gladly die to preserve her honour.
Linda Lobsterapple, a sociologist at Perdue University, has published widely on the correlation between bony, protruding jaws and gravitas. She explains gravitas as a person's perceived authority which intimidates others and compels them to defer to the authority figure. "Gravitas itself is best thought of as a force that acts through certain embodiments or symbols of it. Two of the most powerful such symbols are the archetypal hero's lantern jaws and prominent chin. Traditionally, only manly men with those facial features were admired. But now, after the feminist revolutions, women too can become famous if they possess those traits. Think of the actresses Olivia Wilde, Reese Witherspoon, Claire Danes, Minnie Driver, Jodie Foster, Rosario Dawson, Jennifer Garner, Rachel McAdams, or Angelina Jolie. Or the female news anchors Ashleigh Banfield, Amy Robach, Megyn Kelly, Melissa Theuriau, or Susan Hendricks."
Dr. Lobsterapple says this symbol of gravitas is a sign of strength and part of the innate, stereotypical image of the heroic leader which is embedded in our subconscious. "The symbol works on an unconscious level, so there's little we can do to resist it. I'm not surprised to learn about the Gravitas Jaws. A colleague of mine has a weak jawline, but whenever he displeases his wife he remedies the situation by donning a Halloween mask of Arnold Schwarzenegger and intoning in a deep voice, 'Forget whatever I did. Now go and fix me a sandwich!' Usually, she protests that he's being ridiculous-even as she complies with his demand! The power of this symbol is staggering."
The sociologist went on to compare Gravitas Jaws to former Vice President Dick Cheney's infamous displays of condescension and bravado. "He ought to have trademarked his facial and vocal techniques. It didn't matter what he said: 'There are WMDs in Iraq. Saddam was working with Al-Qaida. American soldiers would be greeted in Iraq as liberators. The liberal media are biased, but Fox News isn't.' The content of his public words is always perfectly irrelevant. All that matters is his aristocratic projection of certainty; literally, his intonation combined with his half-smirk and half-sneer do all the work of persuading people for him. To paraphrase Marshall McLuhan, the medium in which he publicly speaks is always the entirety of his effective message. He has the same talent for sonic control as the Bene Gesserit, with their Voice, in Herbert's Dune novels."
Caught speaking candidly while unaware that she was on air, CNN newsreader Ashleigh Banfield boasted that she can be as ditsy as she likes, thanks to her "manjaws." "It's amazing what I can get away with because the viewers are as dumb as zombies," she said. "I could read them nursery rhymes or tell the most outlandish lies and my manjaws would protect me. My minions take me seriously even though I work for the nation's laughingstock, CNN-solely because I look like I could bite through solid steel, like Superman." As soon as she realized her microphone was on, she shuffled some papers, flexed her jaw muscles, stared into the camera and acted as if nothing embarrassing had happened. Indeed, her show went on.