Friday, June 25, 2010

The Vuvuzela: As an Instrument of Torture, More Effective than Sensory Deprivation

photo courtesy interwebs

Seriously, as an instrument of torture— and the polar opposite of Sensory Deprivation—I think the vuvuzela is pretty efficient. It would break me in about five seconds. It does. Only five seconds of exposure to that blasting, b-flat monotone buzz of bees gone mad and I’ll be singing. I’ll tell you anything you want.

So why is South Africa doing this to us? Perhaps they want to be known, they want to be heard; and how they are. Hey, every country deserves the right to be recognized for its own unique experience and culture (and South Africa, undeniably, is most deserved of this), but is this the mark—or the blare— that South Africa really wants to leave on the world? According to www.South the vuvuzela is “South Africa football’s beautiful noise.” In case you’ve been living in a hole for the past few weeks, you can listen to it here, and judge its beauty for yourself:


These days, the root cause of my night terrors (ok, so I exaggerate a little—but definitely the source of a recent migraine).

And I’ll bet the beehive that, for those people who’ve ever suffered a severe reaction to a bee sting, the relentless buzzing drone of the vuvuzela has been the source of much panic. I sure wanted to run for an EpiPen when I first heard the swarm, and I’m not even allergic to bees.

I get that this annoying noisemaker has been part of the South African football experience for some twenty years; I get its significant origins, modeled after the Kudu horn—an African instrument made from the horn of antelope which was used to summon villagers; and I get its symbolism as renewed pride, unity and hope; but today’s cheap (manufactured in China at .03 cents a pop—sold for $6.00/piece on the internet) simulacre of this ancient horn that all of South Africa is blowing—sometimes at up to 120 deafening decibels, this South African football music (using that term loosely) tradition, is going to create an entire generation of hearing-impaired football/soccer fans. And as much as I love to watch my husband and son bond over the World Cup games, I can’t help but worry about this, and wonder, marvel, at how they can sit on the couch with their chips and drinks for hours, entranced, seemingly oblivious to the relentless hum, without breaking. Not once. Perhaps it has something to do with Sensory Overload?

And if for some twisted reason you can't get enough of this noise, YouTube now offers the vuvuzela button. Simply click on the soccer ball icon in the lower right hand corner of any video, and you can let it croon to you all day long.


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