Vuvuzelas stir up a racket among Net users

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Vuvuzelas stir up a racket among Net users


A South Africa supporter blows a vuvuzela before the opening ceremony of the 2010 FIFA World Cup on June 11. [AFP/YONHAP]

CAPE TOWN - You either love them or hate them, and the vuvuzela is stirring up some impassioned debate on Facebook, YouTube and other sites online.

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 - 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.”

Related Korean Article

[월드컵] `웅웅∼` 굉음에 묻힌 사커시티


11일 오후(현지시간) 2010 국제축구연맹(FIFA) 월드컵 대회 개막전이 펼쳐진 남아프리카공화국 요하네스버그 외곽의 사커시티 스타디움은 한마디로 굉음의 도가니였다.

마치 하늘이라도 무너지는 듯한 엄청난 소음이 스타디움을 온통 휘감았다. 남아공과 멕시코 간 개막전이 펼쳐지기에 앞서 양국 국가가 연주될 때를 제외하고는 경기 내내 '부부젤라'(Vuvuzela)가 뿜어내는 소음이 끊이지 않았다.

수천 개의 부부젤라가 한꺼번에 소리를 내면서 원래 '부우우∼'하는 소리가 '웅웅웅웅∼'하며 고막을 찢을 정도로 굉음의 화음을 만들어냈다.

고함을 질러야 겨우 옆 사람과 대화가 가능할 정도였고, 청각 보호를 위해 귀마개를 한 관중도 상당수 눈에 띄었다. 특히 개최국인 남아공이 멕시코 골문을 위협할 때에는 관중들이 내지르는 함성이 더해지면서 스타디움이 떠나갈 듯 했다.

부부젤라는 남아공 최대부족인 줄루족에서 유래됐다는 설이 있는 나팔 모양의 전통 악기로, 길이가 60∼150㎝로 다양하다. 단순히 마우스 피스에 입술을 갖다대고 세게 바람을 불어넣으면 마치 코끼리가 울부짖는 듯한 소리를 뿜어낸다.

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