The blog of Tokyo based photographer and photojournalist, Damon Coulter

Curtailed Corrida

As Japan comes to terms with its ersatz “tradition” of whaling looking rather anachronistic in the 21st Century and causing it no end of problems internationally by digging it heals in even further, another country has decided that however beautiful and ancient the art; however deep the culture traditions and omnipotent the iconography; the cruelty of the spectacle can no longer be tolerated in a modern society and it is actually amazing to read that Catalonia has banned bullfighting.

As the BBC article above points out, this ban is not as simple as a timely rejection of an unneeded cultural tradition, well past it sell-by date, or even just the rationalisation of an uneconomic activity; it is also perhaps the affirmation of Catalan identity by the rejection of an unwelcome and over-stayed guest culture from Castilian Spain.

This is a kind of healthy nationalism, whose result it will be hard to translate to the rest of the country, particularly as those areas in Spain where bullfighting is still accepted even as it’s popularity declines will stubbornly refuse to follow a ban imposed from the developing independence of Catalonia.

Is this stubbornness also a healthy kind of nationalism? It doesn’t sound like it but “what is sauce for the goose…”  and all that, perhaps it is. I have a hard time deciding the rights and wrongs of this one. Bullfighting is wrong, no question about it, yet it is also an amazing event, steeped in the traditions of ancient Spain, and though more popular with tourists now than local Spaniards, it does allow those traditions to endure. Perhaps they could find some non-lethal way to continue the fights because, unlike fox-hunting, these struggles were originally enjoyed by all types and classes of people and could perhaps be so again if the action that people came to watch was in keeping with the nominally more-caring society they lived in. Unlike most other blood sport in general, the bulls that appear are reared for the ring; not in any way endangered and after the matador has killed them, in a struggle that is at least initially one where the man (or woman) standing in the sparkling suit holding the cape is risking something against a more formidable advisory, are eaten.

I’ve been to bullfights, I’ve marveled at the spectacle of man against a stronger animal and seen him/her win. True after the picadores come on and spear the neck muscles of the bull the result is a foregone conclusion but for a moment there the matador is magical. I sat closer on my second visit, smelt the blood and saw the pain and knew that this was wrong. I am glad it is banned and hope the idea spreads throughout Spain. I doubt it will however, indeed a bit like Japan and whaling I can see bullfighting enjoying something of a boom as a result of this where Castilians hang desperately onto their own traditions in the face of a little too much suggestion from unwelcome cultural usurpers.

The photo above is female matador Christina Sanchez fighting in a corrida in Zamora.

Busy, Talk soon.



One response

  1. Pingback: Death in the Afternoon « sungypsy blog

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