Saturday, 6 February 2016

Bullfighting. And Bullfighting With Babies.

Take a good, hard look at this picture and see if you can guess what the considered opinion of the internet’s indigenous folk was…

Yes that’s right, it was that most ubiquitous and pervading of all The Internet’s emotional states: ‘Uproar’.  

It was the same reaction it had when that girl from Big Brother noshed off that bald guy; the same when Jeremy Clarkson didn’t say the N word on the outtakes for a TV show; and it was the same when Rio Ferdinand once said something slightly derisory on Twitter about someone’s Mum.

One of the reasons the photo caused ‘Uproar’ was because the subject was bullfighting.  Which to city dwelling folk, barely able to imagine a bull for all the smog in their eyes and shattered dreams in their hearts, seems like ‘The Worst Thing Ever’.  Particularly when some of the greatest minds of their generation, such as Ricky Gervais, came out and condemned the sport with a pithy one line comment on Twitter.  Yes Ricky Gervais; the vegetarian who eats chicken.  Which should be all the information you need to realise that his opinion on this might not be the most well-informed one out there.

(Dear World.  Please stop basing your opinions on what comedians think.  I thought we got over all this shit with Russell Brand).

So let’s get one thing straight before launching into the arguments I’m about to make here in favour of bullfighting.  If you’re a Vegan or (go on then) a Vegetarian then you win.  You are right.  I hope the world changes.

However, if you’re in the Venn diagram of people who eat beef and still feel the need to leave angry comments about bullfighting being cruel on social media, then please stop reading this and immediately stamp on your internet router.  Your internet privileges are henceforth revoked and you are requested to visit your nearest abattoir ASAP, where you should ask to watch the cattle being butchered.  Preferably Halal style.  Please pay particular attention to the cows as they are led in single file to have their throats slit without being stunned first.  Once you’ve watched this process for about an hour and fully immersed yourself in the sounds of cows screaming then please buy yourself a burger and proceed to actually watch a bullfight.  You may now try to repair your internet router (although if you start having a pop at the Muslims as a result of this exercise we’ll need to repeat this process with a visit to your local mosque).

So, you are now watching a bullfight and you will notice something.  The matador is fighting a BULL.  He isn’t standing in front of a trailer and randomly picking on the giraffes and the camels and the horses that come tumbling out of it.  The horses used by men in a bullfight are in fact deeply respected and protected with armour (unlike the humans).  No, the matador just fights bulls.  And bulls are right cunts.  Seriously they are; go into a field, call one a prick and see what happens.  Told you so.

At the start of a bullfight the picador pierces the bull’s shoulder with a spear.  This is far less about hurting the bull and handing the matador an advantage than it is about making the bull realise its life is in danger in order to make it fight.  Without this the bull would just sit down, and ultimately follow the rest of the cows into the abattoir.  Because (let’s just clear this up right now) the bull is eaten at the end.

From the moment the bull enters the ring to the moment it fights the bullfighter, the matador is observing how the bull runs; if it holds its head high or low when charging; which way it swings its horns; its gait and various other individual traits to that specific animal.  All this information needs to be studied, processed and acted upon to allow the matador to avoid a goring.  If everything goes well then the final test is the kill.  If the matador cannot execute the bull quickly and cleanly with his sword then he is booed by the crowd and his reputation lies in tatters.

So back to the picture.  The second reason the photo caused problems was because there was a child in it.  Obviously there are some people who think it is not safe for Francisco Rivera Ordóñez to be fighting a bull while holding his child in his arms.  Well yeah, but maybe I don’t think it’s safe for you to be driving a car with your child in it.

Besides, do you know if it was a big, mad bull that could pose a risk to a professional bullfighter?  Or a small one that would present about as much danger to a matador, whose entire family have been matadors, as reverse parking would present to a Lewis Hamilton / Sebastian Vettel tag-team?

The only thing I personally take away from this picture is that I don’t think that I should be fighting a bull with a child in my arms.  Then again I don’t think that I should be driving a car with a child in it either.  Or doing anything with children really.  This is mainly because I don’t have any children.

But if you’re an airline pilot and you want to take your child with you then I’m not really in any position to question your professional judgement as to whether that’s ‘safe’ or not.  As a writer the only thing I am really in any position to judge and monitor is my children’s use of words.  A thought made even more depressing by the ones I see spewed out on Twitter by my own generation.

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