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Jun. 14 2010 - 7:27 pm | 2,357 views | 2 recommendations | 22 comments

The Sound that’s Ruining the World Cup: the Vuvuzela

World: There is the most amazing sport that you’ve GOT to watch.

United States: Jeez…I don’t know. It’s not lacrosse, is it?

World: No, no, it’s much better than that. More exciting. The most exciting sport in the world!

United States: Oh, you mean basketball. We love basktba–

World: Not basketball. It’s like basketball, except it’s played with your feet!!!

United States: Oh boy, not this again…

World: It’s Football! I mean…It’s Soccer!

United States: You know you’ve tried to sell us on soccer before. Like, constantly.

World: Yeah, but it’s better now. It’s the World Cup! And you’ve got your own team playing! Trust me, you’ve got to watch!

United States: You use a lot of exclamation points when you t-

World: So will you watch?! Will ya?! Will ya?! Soccer!

United States: Alright, we’ll give it a try. But this is the last time.

World: Great! Absolutely great! You won’t regret it.

(pause)

World: Oh, one more thing.

United States: …Yes?

World: During the games, during all the games, at all times, the fans are gonna blow this horn. It’s called the vuvuzela, and holy christmas is it annoying. It’s basically the most annoying sound you’ve ever heard. Like a bee got stuck in your head and he’s shooting lasers at your brain. So that’ll be happening. Along with the soccer.

United States: Kill me now.

That basically sums up the World Cup experience, wouldn’t you say? This Saturday, I, along with no doubt countless other Americans, was cajoled into watching the World Cup. Not by any one person necessarily, but by the universe. “The rest of mankind likes soccer, why don’t you?” the universe asked. In that obnoxious tone that the universe gets when it thinks it knows everything. So I watched. And what was my reward? Two hours of soccer that had two entire goals scored, ended in a tie, and was set to the sound of charging elephants. Thanks, universe. You sure were right about soccer.

If you haven’t experienced the South African horn known as the vuvuzela (English translation: plastic migraine machine), and for some reason want to, watch this.

So…murder suicide pact, anyone? Turns out the vuvuzela has been studied by scientists, and when played by experts (i.e. a-holes), it can reach 130 decibels, which is 10 decibels above the human pain threshold. Oh, and they’ve been linked to multiple cases of hearing loss and ear injury. But they’re totally worth it because the sound provides so much added value to the games and soccer in general, right?

Really? 2? You need 2?

Fortunately, thankfully, the World Cup has discussed banning the vuvuzela, mostly because it’s incredibly annoying. At this time however, even though the athletes say it’s interfering with their play, this looks unlikely. In fact, the instrument is spreading. Like malaria. There is now vuvuzela art, a vuvuzela twitter feed (every tweet: bzzzz zzzzz. Yeah, seriously), and of course a vuvuzela iPhone app. I guess that will have to do until Apple releases that “Garbage Truck at 5 am after a long night of drinking” application that everyone is clamoring for.

But seriously soccer, what’s the deal? You know your sport is a tough sell in the United States. There’s a lot of running and very little scoring. You frequently have ties. When a player does something wrong he’s handed an aggressively colored index card. That’s not our kinda sport. But you have a real chance right now, a nice envelope of time when the NBA is finishing up and baseball is barely going when the World Cup could take over. And what do you do? You take that envelope, roll it up into a tight, obnoxious little horn, and blow directly into our national ears. Soccer is like a Trojan Horse, except instead of Greeks soldiers, it’s filled with the worst sound ever created.

Not cool, soccer. Not cool. Figure this out, or we’re done with the World Cup for good.


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  1. collapse expand

    Well done, friend. When I read this I just assumed that you could my mind.

  2. collapse expand

    This is an interesting subject. The horns really are super annoying and leave you hearing the same tone in your head for hours after a match..

    I think the jist of your post was that you are unhappy with football in general. I am English, and everybody in this country is fooball (yes, it is called football, it was invented before American’s decided to steal the name for a sport which does not use something which looks like a “ball” and players rarely use their feet, so i don’t get why you guys went with the name “football” its more like “handegg”). But anyway.. I am English, and we watch football all year round here.. The thing with most American sports is that it is rather easy to score points as you get multiple points for a score.. Whereas in football you get 1 point for 1 goal..

    As for the world trying to get you guys involved with the sport.. I don’t think anybody really cares what American’s watch and get involved with.. You are one country out of the whole world.. And your team really isn’t that great anyways..

  3. collapse expand

    Lol, you wouldn’t have scored if we had a decent goalkeeper. We haven’t had one for a few years now.

    I didn’t nessisarily mean you had a bad team.. You beat Spain (World Cup favourates) last year in the Continental Cup, and went 2-0 up against Brazil in the final of that tournement, but ended up losing 3-2.

    You just don’t have a World beating side is really what i meant. England have a genuine chance of winning the thing, whereas U.S.A will more than likely get knocked out in the last 16 stage.

    And having seen some American Football games, i have to say, it can be quite entertaining. But in my opinion doesn’t quite compare to Rugby, which is almost the same game, but requires more skill and brute force than American Football, and they wear barely any protective gear, unlike in American Football.

    I genuinely think that America isn’t really interested in football because you are not anywhere near the best in the world at it.. You are the best in the world at all of your home grown sports, because they are barely played anywhere else in the world.

  4. collapse expand

    But Brian, it’s so much fun to say Vuvuzela.

    I have watched probably six or seven matches and I now have that buzzing in my head 24 hours a day. I would not recommend this much watching, except that I am a trained professional, so, please, don’t try this at home.

    Oh, yousuck, I love American football, but I agree that rugby rocks. Soccer … not so much, but bring on more rugby programming. Unless the fans use vuvuzelas. Then I’m out.

  5. collapse expand

    The Brits are bloody geniuses. I just read in the Sun that the BBC is considering broadcasting the matches “vuvuzela free.”

  6. collapse expand

    Football really isn’t speaking for itself so far this world cup.. The competition has been slow and not very entertaining so far.

    The matches in Group G with Brazil, Portugal and Ivory Coast are the ones to watch out for today.

    It will get a whole lot more entertaining when the minos get knocked out and the worlds elite players all go at each other.

  7. collapse expand

    USA’s sports isolation is such a good thing. We already thrust ourselves in everybody’s face around the globe to the point of it being obnoxious. Seeing McDonald’s “I’m Lovin’ it” ads on the pitch is obnxious as hell. I love watching the World Cup. The Vuvuzela sound is just background music to me. One thing is for sure: America doesn’t have everything all figured out. Hell, we eat like hogs of corporate factory food and go around in public all nasty obese making wise cracks about other cultures. It’s damn embarrassing. “I’m hatin’ it.!”

  8. collapse expand

    The #1 defense of the vuvuzela is that it’s their culture and we shouldn’t judge it–even if it leads to hearing loss.
    But here’s the deal: if an annoying plastic horn is really the heart of your culture, your culture needs work.

    • collapse expand

      Cultures that live in glass houses……

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        …shouldn’t blow thousands of plastic horns because they might vibrate the glass house and destroy it?

        This isn’t about ethno-centricity: cell phones ruin theaters and unleashed kids restaurants, but I don’t defend that, and I sure as hell wouldn’t try justify it as western “culture” if I did.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
    • collapse expand

      No, it’s not “their culture.” The Vuvuzela isn’t some ancient African tribal instrument that dates back to before European contact or even a colonial era African tradition.

      It’s a plastic (once tin) horn that was popularized in Mexico in the 1970s and which caught on in South Africa in the 1990s. Mass production of the horrible little monstrosities began in 2001.

      2001! Kids born in 2001 haven’t made it to middle school yet!

      African culture is a wonderful and beautiful thing that has endured through unimaginable horror and strife. It is not a cheap plastic horn that makes the world cup all but unwatchable.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  9. collapse expand

    Culture? Hardly. In Boston they sell the same cheap plastic horns every First Night celebrations.

    They’re just another manifestation of how we waste oil (plastic = petrochemicals)

  10. collapse expand

    The droning of plastic horns is definitely annoying, whether it is culture or not. Unfortunately, sometimes culture is annoying. For a humorous take, check out: http://tinfoiler.com/2010/06/15/world-cup-soccer-obviously-part-of-the-evil-socialist-liberal-agenda/

  11. collapse expand

    It is a bit ironic that Brian says that the Vuvuzela is ruining the world cup. How would he know? Ruining it for who?

    South Africa has had one hell of a struggle for freedom in it’s history. Why would anyone try and ban one thing that they can now do, and afford to do?

    In the days of Apartheid, football fans in South Africa were treated like dogs and second class citizens.

    Let them enjoy the moment, let them enjoy something that may never happen again in their time.

    It seems to me that you have a big problem with the rest of the world all playing the one sport under the one banner of unity. We don’t need winners. We don’t need high scores. A drwn game is fine. Why do we need a winner? Lessons are learned from every match.

    In America you hold the World Series in Baseball. Why do you call it the World series. This game started in Britain and it was called “Rounders”.

    Anyway, that’s my tuppence worth.

    All the best.

    Charlie

  12. collapse expand

    That stupid horn. South African Location. All bad.

    My friends and I have tried to interest our children in soccer. Unfortunately, after they have tried the American sports of Baseball, football and basketball they have no interest in the game. It is a boring game to play and to watch when compared to other American Sports. I guess if you compare it to Cricket and Rugby it is exciting. YAWN…

    The reason the US is not great in soccer(and “not great” means as good as Britian’s team since we tied them)is that all of our greatest athletes are playing better sports.

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    Twitter: @b_donovan

    I am a writer, actor, and North Korean Dictator. Over the years though I've written for everything from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to Fox News to Chapelle's Show, and can be seen frequently on Vh1 making snide remarks at the expense of others. Recently I was the Head Writer of "Fair Game", a news and comedy show from Public Radio International. My interests range from news to sports to entertainment, so this blog should read kinda like the evening news, except funnier and with less Brian Williams. Fuck Brian Williams.

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