Fun v. unbelievably annoying fan conduct: a typology
So much of what makes the World Cup fun has to do with the fans. The crowds, the craziness, the wacky outfits, the carnivalesque atmosphere. But I have one serious beef with the received wisdom of what's cool for fans to do, and it's this: earsplittingly loud noises are not fun. They are annoying. They are so very, very annoying and if you can't think of anything more creative than to blow a damn whistle or set off a high-decibel airhorn, then I beseech you to reconsider your noisemaker of choice or (perhaps better) just keep it quiet.
Lest I seem horribly fogeyish about this ("keep that infernal racket down, you consarned whippersnappers") allow me to illustrate with my fave example and the one that inspire this post. Last night at the Brazil game, I had the misfortune to be standing in a concession line directly in front of a Brazilian gentleman who had brought a whistle to the game. We all know what whistles sound like: they are loud. So very, very loud. They penetrate into your animal brain and trigger a desperate fight-or-flight response. And they grow ever louder as the whistler increases the ferocity with which he whistles. All this is to say that behind me, for all twenty minutes during which I was waiting in line, this Brazlian man blew his police whistle at the highest possible volume, approximately two feet from my now-dysfunctional ears. He did this over and over and over again, pausing only long enough to give me hope that he'd stop, and then just when I'd let my guard down, he'd whistle again. And again. And again. At one point I beseeched him to stop (in gesture form--pointing at my ears and then making a hands-folded prayer gesture). His response? To lean in closer and re-whistle.
So in the unlikely event that my noiseur or any of his like-minded compatriots are reading this entry, here's the point: merely making a horribly loud noise is not, in itself, fun (unless, of course, you're a six-year-old child or have the mentality of one, which may explain a lot about the prevalence of its use here). Nor is it cool or interesting, and it's certainly not necessary. Singing your nation's songs is a distinctive and creative way to show your support; chanting is simpler but still great. Low-key noisemakers are no problem at all. Crazy outfits and general merry-making are the stuff that makes the tournament great. But otherwise, here's a good rule of thumb: when a device is designed for civil or personal emergencies (e.g., thwarting a rape or alerting the populace about an air raid) then it's not fun. It's just horribly horribly irritating. So for the love of God, and in the interest of getting us all out of here with some scintilla of sanity and/or hearing left, give it a rest. You consarned whippersnappers.