Ver la versión completa : Enough Sentimental Bull About Bullfighting

18-nov-2009, 02:05
"Article": Enough Sentimental Bull About Bullfighting - by Giles Coren for The Times Online

"If Greta Scacchi wants to pose naked with a cod to promote sustainable fishing, then that’s absolutely fine with me. I am a committed and vociferous campaigner for responsible ocean management, and I love looking at pictures of naked ladies. For me, it’s a win-win situation.

“Get your kecks off, Gret,” I say, “and tell it like it is.” But when Ricky Gervais throws his oar in with the anti-bullfighting lobby — as he did this week, declaring that “Bullfighting needs to stop, it’s so cruel” — then the waters, for me, are not so clear.

If, for example, he is going to take off his clothes and bare his capacious arse for the camera wearing nothing but a pair of party horns to draw attention to his opinions, then I want no part of it. I do not like looking at naked old men and, as it happens, I enjoy bullfighting.

I would love to be able to write that sentence — “I enjoy bullfighting” — without qualification or apology, and then just tear into Ricky’s sentimental, bone-headed outburst, brimming as it was with all the paternalistic condescension of Britain’s darkest imperial days, but I am not an idiot. I know that most of you are pretty squeamish about bullfighting yourselves. You are, after all, the people who give more money to donkey sanctuaries than you do to African children rendered parentless by Aids.

So I must provide my apologia in advance, and explain why my support of the Spanish bullfight is entirely compatible with my great respect for (rather than soupy “love of”) animals, and with my ongoing support for better animal husbandry in the food industry. And why it doesn’t make me cruel.

“What is the pleasure in seeing an animal speared to death?” Gervais asked, entirely rhetorically, not expecting an answer. But, Ricky, since you ask, I’ll tell you that there is no pleasure in “seeing an animal speared to death”, per se. There is sadness. And the bullfight invites you to confront the sadness. Death is awful. You’ve no doubt heard.

The Spanish (not all the Spanish, but most) think it is better to confront it, in this way and in others (flamenco claims to confront the pain of death also, but I have never grasped how), than to suppress it, to flab around in an office all day making smart remarks and then shuffle off to a comedy theatre to hear some chippy lardarse from Reading tell you what he thinks is funny about MPs’ expenses claims.

I enjoy bullfighting, as millions of Spaniards do, in spite of the pain caused to the animal, not because of it. That is a crucial, and by no means a specious distinction. If I ever kill a man (and I really hope that I don’t) it will be because I have a reason to do so, not because I enjoy it. And I will be sentenced accordingly.

Thus, at the bullring, in return for the sadness of witnessing an animal killed, I am rewarded with a thrill far more visceral than you’ll experience at any poxy Wimbledon final or pop concert. There is the throb of ancient history and tradition, the celebrated beauty of blood and sand, red and gold, and the pure lines of movement that enthralled Picasso — the great atavistic ballet. I get the fear of human death (unlikely post-penicillin, but still possible) and the thrill of its avoidance, and then the death of the bull, which is as inevitable as mine and yours. And throughout, that proximity to the bloody and barbaric birth of our visual culture, to the hell of the Roman Coliseum, that I would otherwise never know.

Have you ever seen a terrified bull killed by a tattooed tractor boy with a fag in his mouth in a stinking East Anglian abbatoir? I have.

Plenty. And you don’t get any of those things. Just the sadness. Just the sick feeling. And a mountain of burger meat lying in its own post-mortal crap.

Gervais eats meat, for heaven’s sake. I can accept an onslaught on bullfighting from a vegan. I have nothing to counter the accusation of cruelty from a person who forgoes all the pleasures of the plate and condemns himself to a life of bean-eating, totally abasing himself before the entire animal kingdom because of his overwhelming sympathy for it. Such a man (or, more likely, woman) has my respect. It is they who will save the world, in between frantic dashes to the toilet, noisily to pebbledash the pot with last night’s spicy aubergine and lentil ragout.

But meat-eaters like Gervais have not a leg between them on which to stand. We have become so separated by urbanisation from the process of our food production that we have discounted multiple animal carnage for meat as a moral thing at all. We (well, you) are moved to tears by the public slaughter of a dumb beast with a bit of ceremony and a paso doble a thousand miles away, but dare not confront the thousands of hidden deaths much closer to home that it takes to feed your belly.

A bull bred to fight lives wild on the range, in the herd, untouched by man, eating what it wants, getting laid occasionally, until, when it is 5 or 6 years old, it is rounded up and taken to town to fight and die. The Spanish will say, “to fulfil its destiny”, but let’s not get silly.

A bull bred for your Sunday lunch, on the other hand, or for your grabbed midnight burger on a boozed-up Thursday night, lives mostly indoors. Like Ricky Gervais. It lives on silage. And then, when it is no more than 3 years old, it is taken out and shot. Like a deserter. Do you really feel better about that?

You who are so quick to anthropomorphise the bull and weepily to share its pain, try reversing the process. Imagine not that the bull is a man, but that you are the bull. Imagine that you are given the choice between living to, say, 35 years of age, mostly in a shed, in massive single-sex groups, feeding on silage (prison is a fair comparison) and then queuing with your mates to die at the hand of a shaven-headed thug with a bolt gun . . .

Or then again, imagine living free in thousands of acres of land, eating whatever you want, shagging who you like, and then, when you are perhaps 70, being asked to fight to the death against a Spaniard in pink tights.

Sure, the morning of your 70th birthday, when you wake up and it’s time to meet your maker, you’re going to think, “oh, crap”. But would you honestly give back those 35 years of real living to have some beefy half-trained yokel blow your brains out with a pistol?

Ricky Gervais made his millions by celebrating the Englishman at his most vain, pompous, small-minded, insular and bigoted. His humour is built on the sneer. On inspired displays of passive-aggressive wit at the unfamiliar, in defence of blubby Middle England, a grey archipelago of mini-roundabouts and miserable desk-jockeys living on Greggs pies and surfing a little surreptitious porn at teatime.

Of course he doesn’t like bullfighting! Too much colour, too much history, too much life, too much death, too much blood and sand, too much foreignness, too much difference. I dare say he doesn’t like paella either, or frog’s legs, bratwurst, haiku, poncy foreign novels, French poetry or snooty classical music composed by krauts, funny-looking Portuguese people, poncey Italian opera, sushi . . .

I know that every celeb needs an animal to hug in public, but I’ll vote with naked Greta and her nice bit of cod over fat Rick and his misplaced suburban sentimentality anytime."

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What a total w*nker. And you can't even comment on the page :mad:.

Link to the page: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/giles_coren/article6632871.ece