Sunday, November 29, 2009

Seville: Bullfights

I spent Thanksgiving weekend in Seville, Spain, and enjoyed myself quite a bit. While I personally have no interest in bullfights, and don't really like the concept, I figured I would at least go see the stadium. It's not bullfighting season right now, but even if it had been, I wouldn't have attended an actual fight - it's one thing to try to get to know the culture but that's a bit too much for me.
This stadium has been around for 240 years, and the tour guide explained that there had been only three deaths in that time - human, that is. There are about fifty bullfights a year now, but it isn't as popular as it used to be so I'm sure there were more fights yearly back in the day.
I didn't know exactly how a bullfight worked although I considered them to be slightly unfair and brutal, but now I have specifics for why it is unfair. First the matador comes and more or less dances around with the bull for five minutes, then some other guy has five minutes in the ring and is supposed to spear the bull, then comes somebody else that is supposed to do something gets his five minutes, and then the matador comes back for the kill. So obviously, the bull is wounded and tired - I guess you could argue that an angry bull makes for a more challenging opponent . . .
The thing is, no matter what - the bull dies. I know the matador is seen as brave and noble and so forth, but at the end of the fight the bull is dead. If the judges think the matador did well, he gets trophies; if not, the bull is still dead. If the bull gets smart and tries to escape, he is considered a coward and dies; if the bull fights back and kills the matador, the bull is killed and so is its mother (I doubt the bull has any sentimental attachment to its mother and it's probably to prevent the mother from having any more killers but I didn't ask). Is there any way for the bull to be spared here? Considering that only three humans have died, I'd be perfectly fine with letting those three bulls live (far away from me, of course) - it's not like they haven't killed many more bulls. Also, with those rather low mortality rates, I'm not sure what the big deal is about being a matador (I guess this was supposed to be an impressively low number) - the cards are stacked. I guess it's just about the skill with which he dispatches the bull - why not just have competitions in the butcher shop then? It comes down to the same thing.

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