Posts Tagged ‘death’

Madrid Part 6

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

The Bulls

The reason we had to leave the art gallery was because we had bought tickets to see a bull fight. As I write this I know there will be people tut-tutting under their breath and preparing a speech about animal rights and how I shouldn’t actively support bull fighting as a sport. I wasn’t sure how I felt about watching the spectacle but was curious to see why the Spanish have been so passionate about it. For centuries they have dedicated themselves to bull fighting and matadors are highly regarded within the culture. On one hand it is the deliberate killing of an animal for the enjoyment of spectators, and on the other it has been deeply embedded in Spanish culture and is part of their way of life.

Plaza de Toros

Plaza de Toros

We bought cheap seats in the top section of the stadium but could easily see the show. The stadium is a beautiful building in itself and it was worth the ticket price just to see inside. However, as soon as the first bull was released into the right and the matadors started their thing, I wished our seats were a lot further back.

Stadium

Nice stadium

I was able to form a very definite opinion of bull fighting within the first 15 minutes. Here’s what happens: A bull is released into the ring and three or four guys wave pink capes at it to get it fired up. This is apparently to test how aggressive the bull is and how it is going to behave. After a few minutes, trumpets sound, and two guys on horses come into the ring. The bull charges at a horse (since the 1930s the horses wear protective armour but I still don’t see how they don’t get hurt) and the guy sitting on the horse stabs a sharp pole into the back of the bull, making it bleed. This was when I stopped enjoying myself.

Bull fight

Annoying the bull

The bull is stabbed twice before the horses are taken off and the main matador comes out with colourful spears which he waves at the bull before stabbing them into the bull’s back. This is probably the only time that I could see any element of danger for the human as it is just the matador versus the bull and not a lot of space between the two creatures.

Once the bull has four or more spears in his back, the matador gets a red cape and a sword and waves the cape at the bull for a while, getting the animal really annoyed. Plus he has spears in his back and is bleeding so if I were the bull, I’d be pretty damn annoyed. Eventually the matador gets another, bigger sword which he eventually attempts to stab into the bull. Apparently he is aiming to get between the bull’s shoulder blade and through its heart. He generally missed and had to try again, basically making the bull bleed more and get generally more disgruntled. Once the bull eventually falls over, another guy shoves a small knife into the bull’s spine, apparently killing him instantly, and everyone cheers and the matador bows.

Bull fight

Out goes the red cape of death

It was awful. It was a display of man’s ability to control, tease, hurt and kill defenceless animals. At no point did the bull have a chance. The humans were always in control and unless the matador did something really stupid or the bull made a sudden, unexpected move, the matador is never really in danger. I was shocked by the pointlessness of it and will never watch it again. I’m not even sure I am pleased I saw it once – I felt sad for the animals and hoped they would charge into the audience and maul all of the stupid cheering spectators. Well, not really. No death of anything or anyone would have been nice. And it wasn’t just one bull who was killed – we stayed for 1.5 hours and watched four bulls being killed. I suggested we leave when the fifth arrived.