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Bee in the bonnet

Undoubtedly, it’s the greatest show on Earth. So why stop it from blowing its own vuvuzela? The 2010 World Cup has created a buzz like no other sporting tournament.

india Updated: Jun 14, 2010 22:46 IST

Undoubtedly, it’s the greatest show on Earth. So why stop it from blowing its own vuvuzela?

The 2010 World Cup has created a buzz like no other sporting tournament. And we don’t mean the enthusiasm coming from men bearing out their mid-life crises in the form of wearing football jerseys to the workplace and talking about ‘last night’s goals’ after work.

The buzz is literal and emanates from that plastic wind instrument that plays the role of the good old Kurukshetra conch blasts before the Great War: the vuvuzela. Now it turns out that Fifa, which had been tut-tutting about early complaints from television channels, is considering putting a stop to the ritual blowing of the horns by spectators in the stadia in South Africa (thankfully, no complaints yet about hissing alliterations). That would be a pity.

Who can deny that the vuvuzela sound, variously described as the noise made by an approaching cloud of hornets and the migraine in its sonic manifestation, mirrors the sheer buzz of watching the Beautiful Game? Is the criticism against the instrument reflective of a bias against wind instruments — considering that loud drums and football chants have never come under scrutiny? We think so.

The wall-of-sound effect, so celebrated by legendary music producers like Phil Spector and aficionados of trance music alike, should incorporate the vuvuzela sound and run with it. The drone is that of a war being conducted by other means. There have been football matches where there has been a deathly silence — the game that India played against Afghanistan in Bangladesh in January as part of the South Asian Games that was attended by 300 spectators, for instance. It is amply clear that the overpowering noise of disinterested silence is far worse than raucous noise from the stands. This World Cup has a distinctive soundtrack. So why mute it?