Death to the Vuvuzela!
What makes the vuvuzelas so incredibly annoying is the monotone note that is a constant from the time the TV coverage of a match begins to the last second of the live feed from the stadium. It is unvarying in pitch and decibel level -- about the same as standing a few feet from a jet plane taking off or an amplifier for a rock concert. At 127 decibels, the vuvuzela is louder than a jackhammer, a chain saw, a pneumatic drill, and a subway.
FIFA's Sepp Blatter might find the dulcet tones made by a jackhammer the symphonic equivalent of a Mozart concerto, but the rest of us have a slightly different notion of what constitutes music.
The excuse being given by FIFA and their apologists is that the vuvuzela is simply "local color" and adds a distinctly "African" flavor to the games. Really? Local color might more accurately be described as the marvelous, multi-hued flowing robes worn by the South Africans as well as representatives from the five other African nations who are participating in the 32 team tournament. And as far as the vuvuzela being distinctly "African," that's a bunch of hooey. I can distinctly remember these plastic horns being in widespread use at high school football games back in the 1970s. Not quite as ubiquitous back then, they nevertheless were part of the background noise at many games I attended as a kid.
Unfortunately, it appears that FIFA has bowed to political correctness and cultural relativism, and will not ban the noisemaker:
World Cup organisers Monday ruled out a ban on the vuvuzela horns that have been driving some players and broadcasters mad, with FIFA president Sepp Blatter defending the instrument on Twitter.
After the chairman of the tournament's South African organizing committee had said he would consider a ban on the monotone trumpets, Blatter axed the idea of a ban in comments posted to the short-form web site.
"I don't see banning the music traditions of fans in their own country. Would you want to see a ban on the fan traditions in your country?" Blatter wrote.
I would love to see a ban on a fan tradition in the United States if, by doing so, it ensured the comfort of those watching the games in person or on TV. In this respect, it would seem to me that the South Africans are not being very good hosts, given that there have been so many complaints about the noisemaker. And if FIFA is supporting this affront to aural comfort, it can only be because banning the vuvuzela would bring criticism from the usual multicultural, politically correct suspects.
Avoiding the appearance of "cultural imperialism" -- no matter if it would be simple, common sense to remove an irritant that is causing mass discomfort in most places outside of Africa -- is FIFA's goal. It's why the games were awarded to South Africa in the first place (and why they will be in Brazil in 2014). The winning bid had little to do with South Africa being able to put on the best tournament. It had everything to do with giving the games to a third-world, African country whether they were capable of pulling it off or not. This is evidenced by the fact that FIFA would only allow members of the African confederation to bid on the games (a policy that rotated the venue among the various soccer confederations, since abandoned). Almost before the ink was dry on stories about the 2006 Cup victory by Italy, concerns were raised about the ability of South Africa to put on the games.
So despite most of the rest of the world not being enamored of this cacophonous tool of the devil, it appears that if you are one of the few Americas who will be watching some of the matches during the World Cup, you would appear to have two choices: hire a guy with a jackhammer to tear up your driveway while watching the games or simply grin and bear it.