Now, I'm not writing of the actual vuvuzela. That traditional and noble Zulu instrument is made of an antelope horn and according to Wikipedia is used to signal distant villagers to meetings. One vuvuzela served the important purpose of summoning people for miles around. One. That's plenty.
The thousands we heard incessantly throughout the World Cup were cheap, plastic, mass-produced annoyances that had about as much to do with the traditional instrument as a kazoo does with a professional orchestra-class French horn.
The sound a traditional vuvuzela makes is reported to resemble the cry of an elephant. The sound that several thousand kazoos... excuse me, plastic vuvuzelas make in a stadium can be described in several different ways:
- A billion buzzing bees
- Several thousand people breaking wind simultaneously (Or as some little kids might have asked, "What's with all the dry tooting?")
- A particularly windy Robert Mugabe harangue
- Several thousand drunken revelers blowing air through a cheap, plastic tube
The sound drowned out the cheers and singing of fans from all over the world. It drowned out players trying to talk to each other. It drowned out players trying to communicate with the referee.* It drowned out television commentators. It even drowned out Cristiano Ronaldo's ego, asking him when he was going to do something worthy of that statue in the Nike commercial.**
It never let up. Ever. Whenever a crowd threatened to break into a song, or a somewhat obscene team chant (or both), the vuvuzela volume would increase exponentially to snuff the sound of human voices out, the way the Death Star did to Alderran in Star Wars.
To quote a Jorge Carlito Viejo poem, the vuvuzela was like the proverbial mime: "He never leave."
As much as I love the majesty of the World Cup, I will be glad for the leagues to start up again so we can hear proper crowd noise. The next time we hear the sound of mass tooting at a soccer event, I hope it's just because the pies from the stadium vendors are particularly "beany."
Some commentators called the vuvuzela "the soundtrack of the 2010 World Cup." For once, I would have preferred a solid month of polka. At least you could dance to it.***
*Admittedly, much of this consisted of swearing.
** To which he sensibly replied, "Hey, I nutmegged Homer Simpson!"
*** Note that I completely omitted the obvious, "The vuvuzela blows" joke. I'm classy like that.