1960s film icon and tireless (obsessive?) animal rights defender Brigitte Bardot has a new cause: France has declared bullfighting a part of the country’s cultural heritage. It’s a pretty vague distinction, and it seems as though this isn’t even a really official thing (i.e., it’s not on any UNESCO lists yet or anything). But that’s not stopped Bardot from sending a scathing letter to “the minister of unculture” (obviously the culture minister) Frédéric Mitterrand, saying that “French culture is a culture of enlightenment and has nothing to do with bloody things like bullfighting.”
She also told Mitterand that the decision to vaguely include bullfighting on some nebulous list somewhere was “La plus grosse connerie de votre vie” — “the biggest mistake of your life.” Huh! On a slightly more valid/tangible note, Bardot noted that bullfighting was imported to France from Spain and is thus not a truly French thing. Also, as ArtInfo points out, “Some forms of French bullfighting, however, are more humane than others. In the Provence and Languedoc areas, a local variation of the sport does not involve killing the bull but rather dares participants to try snatching a ribbon from between the bull’s horns.”
Brigitte Bardot has a lot of time on her hands! Isn’t it strange how older celebrities latch onto these causes and just ride them out forever? She’s had the Brigitte Bardot Foundation For the Welfare and Protection of Animals since 1986. She’s fired off angry missives to everyone from the former president of China to the queen of Denmark about protecting various kinds of animals.
I recently watched Contempt, the Godard movie from 1963 starring Bardot, and it’s kind of bizarre to think that the cultural icon that was Brigitte Bardot in the ’60s has become kind of a crotchety old lady. How the mighty have fallen, et cetera!
The video above is no joke. Ricky Gervais is taking a break from podcasting and counting his Office cash to speak out against bullfighting. The British comedian has teamed up with the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPCA) and is calling for an end to the blood sport.
In the Catalonia region of Spain, parliament is set to vote on a measure that would ban bullfighting in the area and Gervais is urging people around the world to sign a petition supporting the ban.
Meanwhile, The Socialists of Catalonia are proposing a kinder, gentler form of bullfighting to save what they see as an important cultural tradition. The Socialists are proposing a kind of bullfighting that would somehow involve the “dignified treatment of animals” by limiting how long the bull suffers before being killed, rules about sword length, and giving bulls more opportunities to earn a rare “pardon” to get out of the mess alive. David Peres, a deputy with political party says, “the idea is for the bullfight to involve as little suffering as possible.”
According to the WSPCA, some quarter of a million bulls don’t make it out of the ring alive each year.
When traveling to latin countries, there’s always that question. Do you really want to see a bullfight? Are you a vegan, or just a sensitive soul, and the thought of seeing a big, uncastrated cow taunted and killed for entertainment not your thing. Well, yeah, if you’re at all squeamish, you definitely would not have wanted to been at the Festival of Saint Isidro, one of Spain’s most important bullfighting events, last Friday. Matador Julio Aparicio was nearly killed when a bull gored him through the throat, leaving the horn to come out through his mouth.
You can see a YouTube video of just what happened here, or pictures here, but don’t say we didn’t warn you. According to a medic on the scene the bull’s horn went through Aparicio’s tongue, penetrating the roof of his mouth and fracturing his jawbone. The injuries have left Aparicio in critical condition, but after two successful operations, he is expected to live. He is one of Spain’s best-known bullfighters.
Last month, at the opening day of the bullfighting season in Mexico, another famous Spanish matador, Jose Tomas, was seriously injured after a bull gored him in the groin, severing a major artery. Tomas underwent emergency surgery, and spent a week in the hospital, to recover from the goring.