International Writers Magazine: La Corrida
Bull and Penelope Cruz
the difference maturity or is it simply the times? Why does the
once exciting and romantic now seem cruel and juvenile?
bullfighting was always thought cruel by those who understood
(and often because of the cruelty, those not caring to understand);
barbed sticks, spears and swords piercing an exhausted animal
until blood pumps down its sides and twenty foot red geysers gush
out its mouth. Not all that long ago we yelled ¨Ole! ¨
as but another dumb ox sank to the ground, horns still attempting
to get at the tormenter, a red cloth.
Man triumphing over
beast, courage through artistry, the ¨moment of truth¨, and
all the romanticism attributed bullfighting by Ernest Hemingway, Kenneth
Tynan, Barnaby Conrad, and the rest of the Fiesta Brava literary crowd,
we thought compensated for the cruelty. ¨Of course, its cruel,
¨ we would growl, ¨but where else can you view ritualized death,
or realize the vast difference between man and beast? At least a fighting
bull has a chance to do damage and not stand helpless as a sledgehammer
smashes into its brain. And remember, the bullfight is not a sport but
Then wed smile with that superiority of the aficionado, lean back,
and from a leather bag squeeze a stream of red wine into our mouths.
still a fixed tradition, the popularity of bullfighting in Hispanic
countries has decreased over the years. My concern here, however,
is with the non-Spanish Speaking world. Other than the ¨Running
of The Bulls¨ in Pamplona each July (which has as much to do
with an interest in bullfighting as ¨Spring Break¨ has with
an interest in Easter), we are no longer intrigued by what Hemingway
called ¨Death in the Afternoon.¨ Why?
to violence on the nightly news, not to mention in movies and television
dramas, is one reason. The public wants something not so close to reality.
What had been a philosophical exercise yesterday appears banal, and
above all, unnecessary, today. For too long weve seen too much
death; all those body bags and coffins draped in American flags. Ritualized
death? Hoisted placards protesting capital punishment saturate our TV
screens, as do death penalty advocates that describe in detail heinous
murders often committed by a serial killer. Photographs of the crime
scene, and the last grizzly moments inside the death chamber, bombard
us. We dont need spectacles that celebrate death, particularly
if they involve a stupid animal that hasnt the slightest idea
why its being tortured. The whole thing is meaningless and extraneous.
As Epicurus said: ¨Where death is, we are not. Where we are, death
But then Epicurus didnt watch TV.
Bullfighting is now out of fashion in the non-Hispanic world. The trend,
however, could swing back in its favor. Ironically enough, the same
power that inadvertently damaged bullfightings appeal, the media,
may overtly lead to a renaissance. ¨Manolete¨, a soon
to be released movie co-starring heart-throb Penelope Cruz, depicts
the last day in the life of the famed Spanish matador (matador means
¨killer of bulls¨), Manuel Rodriguez Sanchez, known as ¨Manolete.¨
If highly publicized this film might trigger a resurgent interest in
La Corrida. After all, matadors were once a staple of the Hollywood
and television diet. Movies such as ¨Blood and Sand¨, and Rod
Serling´s l957 televised drama ¨The Death of Manolete¨,
served to popularize the ¨tragedy.¨ And let us not forget a
new generation is being targeted, and in non-Hispanic countries usually
the young are those enamored by bullfighting.
So the world may return to those symbols of death, matador and bull;
flag draped coffins, serial killers, and Epicurus be damned.
© es morford October 2006
these pictures of running bulls in the Basque country
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