Bulls, Matadors, Blood and Gutlessness (parental guidance recommended)

When I was a kid, actually up until a month or so ago, I associated the word “matador” with descriptors such as brave, majestic and dignified. That’s what I expected to see when we went off to watch the bull fighting in Seville… it was not the case.

Seville’s probably been one of our favourite cities in the world, only very slightly eclipsed by Mount Isa. It’s very rich culturally, has heaps of good food (seems to be a prerequisite for us), friendly people, and lots of different stuff to see in a perfect setting. I guess because of the rich culture it also holds onto some of the traditional customs very tightly – bull fighting being one of those things.

So the childhood impression of the brave, majestic and dignified matador is something I took into the stadium and I suspect that was the case for most of the bull fighting virgins that walked through the gates alongside us. It didn’t last long unfortunately.

Don’t be brainwashed into thinking that a matador is stepping into a cage with a pissed off lion – they’re not. Sure they’re jumping in the ring with a pissed off bull, but not without a barrier on the wall every 20m to hide behind when the bull fights back, nor without 8 or 9 of his mates to dance around to distract the bull when he gets a nice line on a punce in a leotard, or without a bloke in armour on a horse with armour stepping in to jam a spear into the bull’s spine every now and then.

Oh, that’s not all. There’s also the giant hole that’s been carved out of said bull’s back before it even enters the arena to make sure he starts bleeding out quickly, the fact that they run it into a tired stupor before taking turns to jam a couple of barbed knives into it’s back as it runs past, and of course don’t forget that asshole on the armoured horse with the spear. The highlight of my day was watching one bull pick him and his horse up and launch them into the air like a couple of frightened rag dolls, one last crack before walking the green mile I suppose. It’s also pretty hilarious watching a guy in a pink leotard running away from a giant bull with a face of pure terror.

All this happens over a good 20-30 minutes before the big guy steps into the ring. This big guy is one of the “feature matadors” of the night you might say. As a matter of fact he’s the biggest girl of them all in my eyes, waiting until the bull is so bled out and tired that it can barely move to stab it in the spine one last time. And that’s what he does, at least the sword is sharp and the death is quick – oh wait that’s bullshit. It’s sharp but there’s no quick death – the bull still sits there in agony waiting for it to all end for another few minutes while the freaks in the crowd cheer and the king dingaling stands over his “prey” triumphantly. Nice.

Oh course such a beast must be removed from the arena so as not to disturb the next round of bravery so a bunch of nice, helpful dudes come out with a few clydesdales and a cart, rope the carcass before dragging it on a lap of dishonour around the arena for good measure and out the back never to be seen again.

Am I glad I went? Of course, there’s good and bad stuff in the world and we need to expose ourselves to both sides of the coin in order to get a well rounded of view of the rock we reside on. It’s given me an actual opinion on the matter rather than the one a matador or his mates would have you believe. Would I go again? Errr, no. No thanks. Would I recommend somebody else to go? Sure, don’t take my word for it, have your own opinion on the matter. You might really enjoy it ya freak.

That all sounds pretty horrible and gruesome (and it is a bit I suppose) but that’s not an issue for me. I’ve seen death plenty of times before, I’ve shot kangaroos, pigs, feral cats, ducks and one really unlucky sparrow that flew into my shot one time. Go to any cattle station or even spend any bit of time in the outback and you’ll understand that death is an important part of life. What made bull fighting a huge turn off for me was the fact that until the very end, a bunch of blokes taunted and toyed with a genuine warrior that was literally fighting for his life (not that he ever had a chance) without any discernible sign of respect at any stage. It’s all about glory for one bloke in a leotard. I’m certain that if a bull came out and annihilated all of the matadors the guy on the horse would just bust out a bazooka and end things to save face. We did get to see a few of ’em get rolled by a bull though, at least the big boys didn’t go out easy.

So there’s a picture painted for you before I show you some shots. It’s a bit crass, it’s a bit forthcoming and I swore a couple of times but those of you who know me would be proud that it was only a couple. Be aware that some of these photos aren’t too nice.

/end rant.


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