Vuvuzelas stir up a racket among Net users
The meter-long plastic trumpet is as essential an item to South African fans as getting decked-out in the national colors or painting one’s face, and they have been out in force in the opening days of the tournament. Eighty thousand of them being blown at full volume sounds like a swarm of angry bees buzzing in your ear, or, as one newspaper put it, an elephant in distress.
It is a tuneless din that takes getting used to, and they are not just being blown at stadiums, but in hotel lobbies, in shopping malls, and on the streets.
“It’s our way to motivate players, to express happiness and how you feel in the stadium,” said 23-year-old Sazi Mhlwatika. “We are used to them and you can’t enjoy the game without vuvuzelas. If there are no vuvuzelas, there is no game. It’s just a traditional thing in South Africa. Abroad, they sing from the first minute to the end, here we blow vuvuzelas from beginning to end.”
But not everyone is embracing them. Shops in Cape Town are running out of “vuvu-stopper” earplugs, which claim to have a noise-reduction rating of 31 decibels.
According to Switzerland’s Hear the World Foundation - an initiative to raise awareness about hearing loss - tests showed that, at full volume and pressed against your ear, a vuvuzela (127 decibels) is louder than a chainsaw (100 decibels).
“I could have sold 300 pairs of earplugs yesterday if I’d had the stock, and the same today,” one local shopkeeper said. “We can’t keep up.” Another said they ran out last week. “We’re already deaf,” she said.
The earplugs, marketed as “Vuvu-Stop,” bare a label that reads, “Highly effective noise reduction. Uses include soccer, rugby, or for couch potatoes to block out your wife’s moaning.”
It appears the trumpets have hurt the sensibilities of some foreign players, who claim the sound effects their concentration. And they’ve attracted plenty of disparaging comments online. A YouTube video providing insight into the instrument has been viewed by 250,000 people, and it seems many don’t like it. “What an absolutely disgraceful, ear-wrenching noise,” wrote one person. Another said: “The TV stations need to create some sort of noise filter.”
On Facebook, numerous pages have sprung up calling for a vuvuzela-free World Cup. There is even a Web site dedicated to getting rid of them - www.banvuvuzela.com. It is running a poll asking people to vote for or against the trumpet at the World Cup. As of yesterday afternoon, about 36,000 wanted it banned while only 6,500 wanted it to stay.
But FIFA president Sepp Blatter has given it his blessing, blasting detractors by telling them Africa is about music, and moaning about the instrument borders on discrimination. And there’s little sympathy for sufferers from World Cup organizers.
“Everybody loves vuvuzelas,” said Rich Mkhondo, spokesman for the local organizing committee. “They are the symbol of the tournament.”