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Peak Volume

Peak Volume (photo)

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A few months ago I was at a friends house relaxing in the living room with a mug of wine and a pizza. The lights were dim, we were engrossed in some show on his new widescreen plasma. It was a nice time. And then a commercial came on. There was a boom as the speakers blew, shrieking sparks and flaming plastic across the room, the widescreen shattered, hot plasma burned our eyes out. We spent the next hour recovering and trying to figure out why nothing is done about this gratuitous annoyance.

You know the routine. The question is when are people finally going to throw open their windows and hell into the streets, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” Well, a bill proposed by California Rep. Anna Eshoo passed the house saying just that (in so many words). The bill is aimed at regulating the volume of TV ads that daily blast people’s faces off, and have been for decades.

The way it is now, commercials can be broadcast at peak volume – that is the loudest possible output equivalent to the most tremendous explosion or the most intense firefight. Commercials aren’t actually louder on paper from TV shows, it’s just that they are as loud as the loudest moments possible – all the time – and most show are not that loud. Couple this with how inherently annoying the are and you have the illusion of an auditory IED going off in your living room 18 out of every 60 minutes. The bill, titled Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) demands that the peak volume of a commercial be lowered to the peak volume of the segment airing just before it, thus restoring some balance. I guess if you’re watching “24” you may still suffer but at least it won’t be as jarring.

As sensible and overdue as this is some do no want any kind of government regulation. One guy in particular, Berin Szoka who works for the Progress and Freedom Foundation, sees to think the solution is a combination of: industry self regulation (well that hasn’t worked in lifetime), new industry hardware (more products!), and the mute button.

Sorry Szoka. While I can get down with his Orwellian fears to a degree, we the people lease this airspace to these corporations in the first place – and they are, have been and will continue to abuse it unless we the people legislate the shit out of them apparently. They can’t even determine what’s in their own best interest… is a standard practice of muting all ads good for them? Tivo has already permanently removed ads from many American homes, a trend that will only continue unless some commons sense is applied, if through legislation then so be it. It’s also clear that the Progress and Freedom Foundation is funded by large media corporations whose goals are dubious at best.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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