I find that movies & TV shows influence different people through different roles. Some find movie character role models. In this instance, I had the opportunity to speak with multi-talented voice actor Brandon Arthur. His vibrant, eight-year career includes working with well-established and recognized companies such as Google, Marriott, Disney, and Microsoft. We discussed the ever-popular and epic movie Star Wars, along with its multi-faceted lead character Luke Skywalker.
Brandon is both a Millennial and Disney+ subscriber. As you know, Disney+ is the home of the Star Wars saga and is breaking ground in Hollywood with inclusive or diverse casting and hiring via the Marvel franchise, and films such as Black Panther, Aladdin, and The Lion King (live version) that I’ve reported on previously.
I also had the opportunity to discuss psychology and the impact of movies and television on society with Dr. Zeeshan Ali Qazalbash, a psychologist and expert in medicine with a strong emphasis on neurology and neuroanatomy, as well as Psychiatric illnesses. This fascinating conversation delves into how movies touch our lives.
It would be impossible to account for how far-reaching the Star Wars movies and TV series has become and how many lives it’s touched. This extraordinary franchise spans generations and has impacted movie-goers of all backgrounds. We touched on both the importance of movie character role models and how movies and TV shows influence us, along with the importance of representation in Hollywood.
Brandon, can you tell me about your favorite character, Luke Skywalker? What is it about him or his situation that draws you in?
“Well, here you have a young guy in his 20’s who has a ton of hidden talent and lofty dreams but is “trapped” in a somewhat desolate location that’s cut off from the rest of the world/galaxy.”
What types of situations does the character get into?
“Luke’s story spans across 3 films, and from the start, he is challenged by the tragic loss of his adopted family and is abruptly uprooted from his humble and secluded lifestyle. His ultimate goal starts out as contributing to the rebellion by living up to his real father’s legacy but is somewhat altered when he discovers the truth of his parentage. When he finds out that his father is actually a driving force behind the evil he fights against, he goes through an internal journey from hate to compassion.”
Dr. Zeeshan, do people’s views of different cultures and perspectives outside their own background or associations expand when watching stories in movies or TV shows?
“Yes, in fact, such changes are noted throughout society. During patient interaction, a negative story involving doctors in society leads to patients and their attendants being more guarded in their responses and generally showing mistrust in a doctor’s intentions. In this same way, positive stories impact the population in the opposite manner.”
Right, I see. Like in the movie The Insider, it portrayed tobacco in a certain way, leveraging the fact that audiences respond to messages given so boldly.
On Tabacco Control, by the British Medical Journal (BMJ), a study was conducted with 323 cinema patrons to get the public reaction to the tobacco industry’s portrayal in the film The Insider.
Today, diversity is a topic on everyone’s lips. Dr. Zeeshan, how can more diversity and representation in the Hollywood film industry benefit not just women and minorities but benefit everyone?
“If Hollywood embraces diversity, their audience will surely sky-rocket. Not only does diversity on the big screen guarantee money and success, but it also illustrates the importance of representation. Representation matters so that the full story can be told, and so you don’t have a one-sided story that isn’t a fair representation of a diverse population.”
I see, and Brandon, as a child, did you view this character as a role model or see them as one now?
“I certainly saw Luke as a role model as a kid, mostly for fantastical reasons. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a Jedi? However, as I grew older, I really started to dig into the character and understand the driving messages throughout the saga. So I think now I even more so can appreciate the character as a role model for people who desire to fulfill their dreams and pursue what is right, regardless of the obstacles.”
Speaking of pursuing what is right, we were speaking of diversity. Dr. Zeeshan, based on your background in psychology, what advice would you give a major studio film producer for new content to create?
“In my professional view, filmmakers have a moral obligation in ensuring movies being made are at least not divisive and portraying any one group in a negative light, if not helpful towards solving social issues and breaking down stereotypes and divisions, as the effect of movies and TV shows as constant stimuli affecting the opinions and feelings of the people watching them cannot be understated.”
Thank you, Dr. Zeeshan.
Brandon, tell me a story about a life lesson you learned from this character that you applied to a real-life goal or situation.
“After I had just graduated from high school and was entering the college era of my life, tragedy struck my family when I lost my mother. Having been homeschooled primarily by her in my entire childhood in a somewhat sheltered environment, it was an incredibly daunting task to truly step out into the world for the first time without her support and guidance. Regardless, I somehow found the strength to step out of the life of safety and comfort, and due to the solid foundation she helped build, I eventually was able to zero in on my true passions and purpose in my career and life in general. Luke in the Star Wars story overcame similar challenges to ultimately find his true purpose, which was to save his father and bring back the Jedi Order.”
Brandon, I appreciate you sharing your story and hearing your thoughts on Luke Skywalker and how he’s come full circle through the series. Your success and talent in the industry as an accomplished and valuable voice-actor is great input and allows us to hear from an insider, which is an element that we don’t all have access to.
Today’s movies make an impact on society, and how we treat these resources can help us see the world in a new light. In another study on the National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Tina Kubbrak reports on the Impact of Films.
The fact is that movies are not purely entertainment. People respond, react, and form opinions based on the things they see. And while Brandon saw a relatable character one way as a child, his thoughts expanded on the full-circle character as he grew older. Do we need to account for the many ways people decipher movies? That’s a lot of responsibility when being so weighted ends up taking the joy out of simple entertainment.
This interview was fascinating. Thank you, both. It was a pleasure to have the unique opportunity to speak to you both and get a peek into how movies touch us in different ways. Dr. Zeeshan, having your expertise adds another layer to the interview, as it allows us to think about film and television more dimensionally. Your education and generosity of time have helped me immensely.
Hopefully, with society making their voices heard and diversity becoming more vital in the industry, we’ll find a broader range of movies and entertainment to choose from, both inclusive and covering more cultures and backgrounds.