Voulez-vous le vuvuzela?

It’s brought a new meaning to the phrase ‘getting the horn’ for football players, it’s taking up more column inches than Pamela Anderson did on that boat that time, and, right now, it encapsulates perfectly everything that’s wrong with our media, our country and us.

Newspapers and TV shows are going bonkers to crowbar vuvuzela ‘coverage’ into their products. There are stories about the slender plastic noisemaker spreading cold and flu viruses, concerns that it will cause tinnitus or make fans’ ears drop off or something – it can’t be long now before someone inks out a spurious link between vuvuzelas and heart attacks or cancer…

In the past week, you couldn’t make up some of the ‘zela’-related hoo-ha. Seriously, here is a quick list of some of the things I’ve read and seen:

• 14 different vuvuzela iPhone applications
• A man playing a vuvuzela on NEWSNIGHT
• Ostensibly serious studio debates about the ‘hazards’ the instrument poses
• A massive space on today’s guardian.co.uk front page containing an ‘idiot’s guide to the vuvuzela’.

OK, so some of those things could be considered fun reporting of current events, to be filed in the ‘and finally’ category. But enough’s enough; it was funny to start with, now the endless time and space being dedicated to the so-called ‘controversial’ instrument just smacks of the same old media desperation. And they accuse the vuvuzela of droning on.

Much worse than all that, however, is the news that the BBC is considering offering ‘vuvuzela-free’ coverage of games via the red button. Er, you what now?

There’s surely some sort of lingering imperial arrogance happening here. Something you don’t like or understand happening at a sporting event in Africa? It’s OK, we’ll just edit it out and pretend it’s not happening. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time in our relationship with the continent that we’ve done that…

As Shaun from Shaun of the Dead neatly observed on Twitter: “Complaining about the vuvzelas [sic] is embarrassing. It’s part of their game and we are their guests. Suck it up and stop whinging. Hooooooooonk!”

He then went on to make this equally trenchant observation: “Of course if an enormous swarm of mutant, weaponized bees were to attack, now would be the time.” Something to bear in mind, I suppose.

Now if, for some reason, you live in a cave – actually, it would be especially annoying in a cave – and haven’t heard a vuvuzela yet, it sounds a bit like Amy Winehouse gargling Listerine while doing laps of your local one-way system on a 25cc scooter. So I’m not about to pretend it isn’t grating.

But, while we might view the vuvuzela as either a quirky idiosyncrasy or an evil pipe that channels the sounds of hell directly on to the earth and into our ears, it is a fundamental part of supporters’ enjoyment of the game in South Africa. What’s more, aside from the football, obviously, it will characterise this tournament.

Much of Britain still, it seems, needs to realise that we can’t just erase stuff we don’t like or understand. Please leave the noise in the games, BBC. It wouldn’t be the same without it.

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3 thoughts on “Voulez-vous le vuvuzela?

  1. It’s especially stupid when you consider the constant fucking racket of bells and drums at Pompey, the cocophany of cocky crap sung by Spurs fans and the ear shattering smugness at Chelsea. All better than the silence at Utd though. I’m sure the Africans would find all that annoying. A different issue may be a point I heard the other day that the media coverage in this country is full of the impact the cup could have on race relations in South Africa but none of them have featured, intrviewed or videoed a single white person. So either the white south africans are not interestd, which would be a story in itself, or white south africans are being deliberately ignored… which would be odd considering the context. ANYWAY good blog dave!

  2. I think they add to the atmosphere – haven’t really noticed that much difference from the normal horns and whistles that footie draws.

    And as long as I can still hear the great escape being played by the England supporter band during our matches – I couldn’t care less 🙂

  3. A great point Dave, infact I barely notice the constant drones of Amy Whinehouse gargaling listerine on her scooter anymore, however I think when South Africa play tonight it may be a little louder than normal.

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