WORLD CUP JUNE 18, 2010
I hear vuvuzelas everywhere. On the streets, in the shopping malls, and of course in the stadiums, but I even hear them now when they aren't there. Last night, as I was trying to fall asleep in the little house where I'm staying in Melville, I was certain I heard a crowd of them, honking relentlessly somewhere far off. Then I realized the heater in my room happens to drone at a B flat, the same tone made by most vuvuzelas.
Would you ever confuse a crowd of Mexican soccer fans shouting "Puto," or a group of Brits singing "Rule Brittania," with a home electrical appliance? No. This is why the vuvuzela sucks. It has no character. It is worse than an insect noise; it is a machine noise. Its only supporters are reduced to claiming it's a proxy for some gauzy concept of African self-actualization: Europeans who complain about it are accused of trying to impose Western manners on Africa or, conversely, of yearning for some Lion King primitivist fantasy in which African soccer fans prance in rhino-leather loincloths and beat on drums rather than blow trumpets ("I smell more than a whiff of cultural imperialism in much of the criticism of our beloved Vuvuzela," a South African journalist huffed. Frankly, this is incredibly lame. It makes the vuvuzela the Zimbabwean-indigenization-laws of sports paraphernalia: defensible only on the plane of ideology and not for its real-world outcomes. The real-world outcome of the vuvuzela craze is that none of the World Cup tourists or overseas viewers have gotten to hear South Africa's absolutely awesome crowd songs, ones like "Shosholoza" which have nothing to do with a-weem-a-way tribal fantasies and everything to do with this country's modern liberation history. I find the vuvuzela as fake as Al Sharpton in a dashiki. Why does every vuvuzela blow the same B flat? It suggests to me they're all rolling off the same assembly line.