The creation of this character can be said to be heavily hinged by the commonly held American stereotype against commercial pilots as womanizers, gamblers and outgoing. The producers of this adult animation series followed the footsteps of earlier media productions such as BattleStar Galatica where a pilot’s role is based on this womanizing stereotype. In BattleStar Galactica, Dirk Benedict acts as a viper star pilot who is a gambler and a charming individual that is constantly seducing women. In Greg Smith’s What Media Classes Really Want to Discuss: A Student Guide he notes that the media has a lot of impact on the society through the role models it presents to the public and the stereotypes it greatly accentuates. It “creates strong prejudiced images on the minds of the audience shortening their perceptions on various issues” (Smith, 2013).
In the animated series Family Guy, Quagmire as a commercial pilot is used to bring out the theme of sexuality and sexual liberalism in the American culture. The character in the comic animated series is portrayed as bisexual and sex-crazed. His womanizing antics are extended up to his friend’s spouses such as Lois Griffin and Loretta Brown. In one episode, Cleveland asks if there is anything that does not arouse Quagmire sexually. He has multiple sex partners and even goes to the extent of visiting female prisons in order to satisfy sexual desires. The character is also portrayed as a father to many illegitimate children borne out of his numerous sexual escapades wherever he goes. This voracious sexual appetite that constantly puts him in conflict with other characters but they all give him a break for his actions since in the American culture almost all pilots are womanizers and irresistible to women.
In Rebecca Lind’s Race/Gender/Class/Media (3rd Edition) the first chapter addresses the social psychology of stereotypes and their implications on media audiences. The social construct of the stereotype advanced by the media in this case Family Guy through Glen Quagmire character is based on the universally and situational perceptions held by Americans. The universal and situational perception dwells on the belief that both at social and occupational levels that pilots are womanizers (Lind, 2013). At the social levels the commercial pilot as presented by the media are well paid for holding complicated occupations reserved for few which makes them irresistible to the members of the female gender (Lind. 2013).
As an occupation, piloting is viewed as a reserve for few who are daring and resilient to learn it. This explains the macho character portrayed by Quagmire in the Family Guy series through his risk-taking sexual escapades with his friends’ wives and random ladies. In “Love Blactually” episode, he is caught by Peter Griffins making out with Loretta, Cleaveland’s wife. This leads to the eventual divorce of the Browns (Loretta and Cleaveland) which does not startle him nor perturb him at all. The carefree nature and macho nature is reminiscent of the exaggerated pilot image that is captured in the American society. It might be interpreted that Quagmire is only acting out what any “cool guy” handling “super flying machines” would do.
The generalization of the commercial pilot personality as illustrated by Quagmire’s role is highly exaggerated. The numerous number casual sexual escapades with different women are abnormal. The exaggeration in the Quagmire character development is used to accentuate the dark humor or adult comedy. The Family Guy is sitcom being a subtle portrayal of the American culture can be said to use the Quagmire character to express the American perception of pilots both commercial and naval. The Quagmire character is a fusion of the American pilot stereotypes and the production exaggeration for comic effect. The storytelling on the part of the Family Guy producers may influence the audience to a certain rational extent that is sold in many 21st century films ad sitcoms. The public assumes that men in uniform more so pilots are hip and cool making women easily to fall for their charms (Smith, 2011).
In recap, the animated series Family Guy has taken a notch higher the occupational stereotype leveled on the American pilots. It has borrowed heavily from past media productions and the American culture as a whole. The generalization though exaggerated can be linked to the social or audience knowledge of the sophisticated nature and how well paying the pilot occupation is. The sophistication sets the pilots apart from the rest; the handsome pilot pay makes them even more adorable to many. The ability to take up such a sophisticated and risky aviation job backs up their macho appeal and allure, which is assumed in the social and psychological sense to make members of the female gender to fall for them with ease (Smith, 2011).
Lind, R. A. (2013). Race/Gender/Class/Media (3rd ed.). New Jersey: Prentice Hall.
Smith, G. M. (2011). What media classes really want to discuss: A student guide. London: Routledge.