Brian Doan

Writer & Blogger

Oberlin, Ohio

Brian Doan

Film Scholar, Pop Culture Writer/Blogger, Freelancer.

Engaged and Engaging Prose.



Watch The Skies: "Empire of the Sun" and the Difficult Third Album

Bright Wall/Dark Room Link to Story

Before the First Avenger: "The Rocketeer" 25 Years Later

"All my vague cartoon ambitions suddenly fused into one crystal clear goal: to draw dramatic, emotionally-charged, energized scenes of power, grandeur, and intensity. It was like movie-making on paper, and you were the writer, designer, and director." Dave Stevens, creator of The Rocketeer. "I’ve bought a ticket in a lottery, the grand prize of which amounts to this: being read in 1935." Link to Story

Post-Apocalyptic Alienation Revue: Richard Lester's The Bed-Sitting Room (1969) and the Dream of London at the End of the World

In my own life, my hand gets caught in my sleeve in most of my dramatic exits. “It was a depressing film to work on. It was painful. And that comes over,” Richard Lester admitted to interviewer Steven Soderbergh, as they looked back at his 1969 post-apocalyptic comedy The Bed-Sitting Room in their book-length dialogue Getting Away With It.
Bright Wall/Dark Room Link to Story

The Best Performances of 2015

A living legend. A lonely shopgirl. A scientist. Several assassins. The best performances of 2015 came from various corners of the world, from actors who we expect to see in features like this to ones we had never heard of before 2015. Watching a new crop of young actors rise in some of the year's best films (and click here for our top ten) can be invigorating, and seeing performers who we thought may have given their last great performance deliver the best work of their career can be breathtaking. Link to Story

The Individual Top Tens of 2015

Yesterday, we released the consensus Top Ten Films of 2015, led by George Miller's "Mad Max: Fury Road." Today, we dig deeper, presenting you with all submitted lists from our brilliant critics and independent contributors. There are over two hundred films cited below as among the best of 2015, displaying both the diversity in quality at the cinema this year and the unique voices that cover it for our site. Link to Story

Magical Realism: "Northern Exposure" 25 Years Later

"We used Alaska more for what it represents than what it is. It is disconnected both physically and mentally from the lower 48, and it has an attractive mystery." CHRIS: Soapy once told me that the thing he loved most about country music was its sense of myth. There's heroes and villains, good and bad, right and wrong. Link to Story

The Act of Not Having An Act: Cameron Crowe's Ambivalent Humanism

These images have certain elements in common: movie stars, longing, a search for some sense of community (even in a Manhattan dreamscape). They reinforce Crowe’s interest in human faces (close-ups are like a chorus he’s constantly returning to for emotional reinforcement), display his adept deployment of pop music, and extend Crowe’s reputation as a middlebrow humanist, the quintessential Nice Guy of contemporary Hollywood. Link to Story

Everyone's A Hero In Their Own Way: Tracing the Superheroic Roots of Joss Whedon

It was early 2004, and I was sitting with some fellow graduate students at an outdoor table at the Market Street Pub in Gainesville, Florida (one of the glories of Gainesville was that you could sit at an outdoor table in January or February). Somehow, the subject of comics came up. We talked about the characters, creators and titles that we'd loved as kids, and my friend Roger asked me if I still read superhero comics, as he did. Link to Story

Seasick, But Still Floating: Blur and "The Great Escape"

This essay explores Blur's 1995 album THE GREAT ESCAPE, combining formal analysis with historical and theoretical context, while thinking about what the record meant in the broader contexts of British and American pop music.
PopMatters Link to Story

In Memoriam: Phillip Seymour Hoffman

This is an "in memoriam" piece on the late actor, using a few of his films to remember his importance. Link to Story

“Frances Ha” & “La Notte” on DVD & Blu-ray

A review of two new Criterion releases-- FRANCES HA and LA NOTTE--and a meditation on writer's block, and the pleasures of delay. Link to Story

"Eisenhower and Political Advertising"

This a chapter from ABC-CLIO's 3-volume, edited academic collection We Are What We Sell: How Advertising Shapes American Life. . . and Always Has. My essay uses the TV show MAD MEN as a starting point to examine how Eisenhower's innovative use of television advertising both shaped and was shaped by the surrounding culture of the 1950s and early 1960s. In addition to MAD MEN and Eisenhower's media imagery, I also look at a wide range of other media and pop culture texts: movies like A FACE IN THE CROWD (1957), comics like SUPERMAN and THE FANTASTIC FOUR, and the political image-making of Barack Obama. We Are What We Sell: How Advertising Shapes American Life. . . and Always Has by Danielle Sarver Combs and Bob Batchelor, Editors. Copyright (c) 2014 by ABC-CLIO, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduced with permision of ABC-CLIO, LLC, Santa Barbara, CA.
We Are What We Sell: How Advertising Shapes American Life. . . and Always Has (ABC-CLIO) Link to Story


Brian Doan

Brian Doan is an Affiliate Scholar with Oberlin College, where he taught courses in cinema and popular culture from 2006-2011. He has a Ph.D. in English (with a concentration in Cinema Studies) from the University of Florida.

He's the author of The Song That You Hear In Your Head: U2's Pop (forthcoming from Thought Catalog). He has contributed essays on film, television and popular culture to, BrightWall/Dark Room, PopMatters, and other sites, as well as essays to several academic collections. He also blogs at Bubblegum Aesthetics ( He lives in Oberlin, Ohio.