Sunday, July 4, 2010

Loud noises!!!

DF has never liked loud noises. Hence his systematic dislike for concerts: they are too damned loud. Ditto many (most?) bars and nightclubs, which are awful for their own reasons, but also because they tend to have music cranked to deafening levels. Why do people like this? What is appealing about having to yell to make yourself heard? These things confuse and flummox DF.

I can understand, of course, why one might need to make loud noise, as to call for help in the case of a criminal assault. I can also relate to, say, yelling to celebrate or singing when one feels like belting out a song. These loud noises make sense because they communicate something, whether a need for help or a desire to express felt joy.

For a child, such noises are a source of fascination, and they have no idea what kind of conduct is annoying because they’re presocial. But for adults to think this is amusing utterly baffles and annoys me. There is nothing interesting or entertaining or aesthetically redeeming about loud noises, whether vuvuzela or whistle or god knows what else.

My concern—and, let’s be honest, utter annoyance—is with the kinds of loud noises that people make for no other reason than they seem to like to make loud noises. To wit: when I was at the World Cup back in 2006, I became aware that most international football fans seem to absolutely, positively love loud noises. At the Brazil/Croatia game that year, a Brazilian standing behind me in a ticket line had brought a whistle and kept blowing it, at top volume, and without cease, even when I oh so politely asked him to stop.

This year, the prevalence of vuvuzelas at the World Cup has made even more salient the love of loud noises among soccer supporters. The vuvuzela is, in a way, the ultimate loud noise—it is terribly loud, impossible to ignore, simple and easy to create, and has no sonorous quality whatsoever. It’s about as mellifluous as the death bellow of a sick elephant—an unredeeming aural assault.

And so of course, OF COURSE, it has become de rigeur to bring vuvuzelas into pubs when you’re watching a game and to blow them in support of your team. And I hate this. Oh how I hate it. To illustrate: when I was watching Germany disembowel Argentina in a pub in Zermatt yesterday, I was dismayed to find that two Germany fans brought in vuvuzelas (painted in orange, black, and white, of course).

They blew the vuvuzelas throughout the game, sporadically (presumably to maximize their capacity to unsettle) and loudly. They would blow the vuvuzelas when Germany did well, and when play got into a lull. They blew the vuvuzela to make long monotone noises, and short staccato bursts. And every one of these was like a dagger of annoyance in DF’s brain, on the same level of appeal as having a howler monkey hopped up on methedrine screeching at top volume a few feet from your ears.

And you know what? PEOPLE EFFING LOVED IT. To DF’s utter and complete astonishment, every time these guys tooted their vuvuzelas, people would laugh, or turn and smile at them. I was baffled and still lack any real explanation. All I can do is venture this guess: people laugh for different reasons. Sometimes people laugh because something’s legitimately funny (e.g., a truly well-written comedic TV show or movie). But sometimes people laugh not because something is funny, but because someone is attempting to be funny or, perhaps more accurately, goofy. This happened a lot when I was clerking. My judge would often make jokes from the bench that weren’t particularly funny, but which nevertheless got a laugh because people perceived him to be trying to be humorous rather than actually being humorous (think also, for example, of parents laughing at a horrible school play).

Or maybe I’m overthinking this, and am just in the minority and I should accept that people, for whatever god-forsaken reason that I simply cannot relate to, love loud noises.