Some believe bullfighting is an art. They believe the performance which features a cast that includes horses, riders, men on foot with brightly colored spears, and a man dressed in a brightly colored uniform, who kills the bull... is culture.
Supporters of bull fighting create an illusion that the matador is brave. They want tourists to believe the bull fight is a drama, as the matador gracefully moves in sync with his partner the sacrificial bull. They wish you to believe the arena is filled with adoring fans. They don't wish to discuss other facets of bullfighting, such as the sickened tourists at the arena who find to their dismay that what is billed as culture is a grisly execution.
Critics believe bullfighting a horrific farce where the grisly joke is on the bull from the very beginning,
An article written a few years ago by Danny Penman for Mail Online best illustrates this. Penman wrote of a bullfight, The bull was close to death but refused to die. He stared defiantly at his opponent, Javier Cortes. He slowly raised himself off the ground and prepared to charge the matador one final time.
Javier laughed and taunted the bull with his cape as the animal stumbled forward. This was the part Javier loved most of all, a time when a matador is allowed to practice his 'art' by plunging a sword deep into the heart of the bull before twisting it viciously in the shape of a cross. but still the animal refused to die.
The crowd waited with bated breath for the matador's coup de grace. But then, just as he was poised to stab Santanero, a tiny voice rang out from behind me in Madrid's Las Ventas bullring.
'Leave the bull alone!' screamed a five-year-old American girl who had been taken to the bullfight by her parents. 'Why are you hurting him? You're so cruel!' She stamped her feet and screamed even louder as the crowd looked at her in shock. As far as they were concerned, the girl had disturbed an artist at work.
Her pleas were worthless. The matador plunged his sword into the back of Santanero's neck and then repeated the thrust twice more. The animal bellowed in pain before falling onto his side gasping. He was finished.
The scene described above is one that writers such as Ernest Hemingway, the media, and the movies have popularized and glamorized.
From the bull’s point of view the contest between matador and bull is more like the butchery of the games of the Roman Empire than a 21st century cultural event.
In fact in most civilized countries if an animal was subjected to the abuse and torture a bull is subjected, the perpetrators would be charged with cruelty to animals.
In the bull fight described by Penman a five year old girl had the nerve to voice what many tourists feel when they see a bull fight.
Would more voice their opposition to bull fighting if they know how the bull is prepped for its fate in the arena, and what a one sided farce the spectacle really is?
Contrary to the illusion, the bull does not arrive in the arena to face his death in prime fighting condition. Instead el toro staggers into the arena a tortured, weakened, and dazed victim.
According to the website Last Chance for Animals “Heavy weights are tied to the bull’s neck for weeks before the fight to weaken him. Workers rub petroleum into his eyes to obscure his vision and beat the bull’s kidneys repeatedly. They give him tranquilizers, laxatives, and drugs that induce paralysis or a hypnotized state. They feed the bull a great deal of salt so that he will drink excessive amounts of water, become bloated and, consequently, slow. The vast majority of bulls are forced to undergo afeitado, the cutting down or filing of the horns"
"For hours before to the bullfight, the bull is held in a tiny, dark isolation cell. He is not given food or water. Confused and anxious, the bull misses the company of his herd. Just before entering the bullring, he is harpooned, causing him to bleed, then released into the bright light of the arena..”
Meanwhile, how does the brave matador learn the craft of sticking a sword two feet into a his confused and weakened opposition? Does he practice on other bulls to learn his grisly trade? No according to Last Chance for Animals, “All the while the bullfighter is practicing his techniques on underweight heifers.” He is slaughtering harmless cows under one or two years old with his sword.
The only thing that is cultural about bullfighting is it is like theater. It is similar to a well scripted theatrical farce, with different acts all meant to predictably put an end to the co-star of the production, The bull, who unfortunately has his ears and tail cut off at the end of the production and his body is dragged unceremoniously through the dirt, the blood and the dung on the arena floor.
Bullfighting is becoming less popular amongst the populations of the countries that practice this barbaric spectacle and call it culture. But it is still an important industry in the countries in which it is practiced because of the tourist dollars the bloody and one-sided spectacles bring to watch the "cultural" torture and slaughter of tens of thousands of animals annually.
Animal advocates and animal lovers who think bullfighting is barbaric, savage and horrific can influence the demise of bullfighting. They can avoid vacationing in any countries, or provinces of countries, or regions that still participate in this vestigial remnant of the savage games of Rome.
Also, Spain wants to be the host country for the 2020 Olympics. One wonders if a nation that condones a "sport" that is so one-sided and tortures animals is really a country that should represent the standards of fairness for which the Olympics stand. If you agree voice your opinion to the Olympic Committee and send them an email that says,
Make sure you let the authorities know your feelings. Send the local department of tourism an email and write, "FYI, I have no desire to experience culture where bullfighting is considered culture. I have decided to forgo ever vacationing in your country until you stop the barbaric farce called bullfighting."