sábado, junio 07, 2008

¿El fin del toreo?

El New York Times, el diario más influyente del mundo, escribe hoy que el toreo está muerto, y yo interpreto que es por la llegada de nuevos valores sociales en España. Disminuyen los valores materiales y crecen los valores postmateriales, como los llama el estudioso de encuestas Ronald Inglehart. En lo personal el toreo no me molesta mucho, aunque no entiendo las ganas de hacer sufrir a un animal, aunque sea bravo como es el toro. El toro solo de defiende, el torero solo ataca. Uno está solo, el otro tiene muchas ayudas. El psicodrama del daño o muerte de toreros se me hace gratuito, cuando es el toro el que llevado a defenderse, y no alrevés. Creo que la sociedad puede canalizar su energía en cosas más útiles, que en matar toros por placer. Por algo no se permiten las peleas de perros: el hacer dinero a costa del dolor animal nos rebaja como especie. Y si tuviera que elegir entre permitir el toreo o no, creo que lo segundo sería mejor.

Es un texto largo, copio un fragmento:

Bullfighting Is Dead! Long Live the Bullfight!

Jose Luis Roca/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

José Tomás performing last year in Algeciras, Spain. His grace and artistry - some would call it savagery - make him wildly popular with the fans.

Published: June 1, 2008

It was the time of Las Fallas, the annual spring festival in Valencia. Giant papier-mâché cartoon floats of Sinbad and Snow White and troupes of amateur dancers with lacquered hair and sequined outfits jammed the old city squares. Spanish matrons and women in evening dresses joined the teenagers and the men in business suits thronging the plaza de toros. The matador José Tomás had come to fight.

By 5 o’clock a mob toting slim, white plastic seat cushions had jammed onto the cement benches of the arena. I was there, like everyone else, to see José Tomás, and found myself sandwiched between an elderly, rheumy-eyed Valencian in a porkpie hat and a bullfighting announcer for Spanish television on a busman’s holiday from Madrid who was working a thick stogie. The smells of wet clay, manure and sand gave way to after-shave and cigar smoke.

José Tomás Román Martín — fans call him by his double-barreled first name, José Tomás, or just Tomás — is a mystical figure in Spain. Quixotic, prone to public squabbling with bullfighting’s notoriously sleazy promoters and rarely given to speaking to the media, he keeps largely apart from his fellow matadors and fights much more infrequently than they do. His remoteness, in one respect, speaks to bullfighting’s disengagement with a growing segment of Spain, though his artistry and grace, along with his fearlessness (it shocks other matadors), make him a figure of widespread fascination. The contradiction seems to encapsulate something deep in the Spanish psyche.

The announcement of his appearance in Valencia caused a scramble across the country for tickets, and old Spain, the Spain that still loves bullfighting, turned out in full. When Mariano Rajoy, the head of Spain’s conservative Popular Party, who had just lost the election to the Socialist José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, entered the arena, he received a thunderous ovation, something that didn’t much happen to him out on the campaign trail. “He will yet be the ruin of Zapatero!” murmured a red-faced man, to no one in particular. I spotted Tomás’s father a few seats over — short, gray-haired, bespectacled, in crew-neck sweater and slacks, staring anxiously into space. Everyone now stood, expectant. Then a brass band struck up; the matadors, after first crossing themselves, paraded into the ring behind white horses; and the crowd finally settled down to wait for José Tomás.

AS SPAIN GOES, so goes toreo, or bullfighting. That’s the old adage. During the 1940s, Manolete was a matador of stoic gravity, reflecting the rueful mood of a country coming out of bloody civil war under a dictatorship. During the 1960s, the mop-topped El Cordobés, a hot-dog and a rule breaker in the ring, personified the opening up of the nation after years of isolation. In the ’90s, Espartaco was called a technocrat for a technocratic era. This sort of metaphor is glib, but there is nonetheless something to the notion that you can read Spain through bullfighting.

Today, along with José Tomás, a variety of other gifted matadors have emerged — among them Enrique Ponce, El Juli, Cayetano Rivera Ordóñez, Morante de la Puebla, Juan Bautista, Miguel Ángel Perera — at precisely a moment when the country apparently cares less than ever about what they do. It’s also revealing of Spain’s curious divide between indifference and fascination that several of the more flamboyant and handsome toreros (bullfighters) occupy the gossip pages the way Spanish soccer stars do.

But first things first. Aficionados will rightly tell you that toreo is not a sport; in Spanish newspapers, it is never featured on the sports pages. Sport implies a fair fight between willing opponents. Except in the unusual case that a bull is spared for having shown exceptional bravery in the ring, all the bulls die. Even in Portugal, where bulls aren’t killed in the ring, they are killed afterward, a hypocrisy that spares the spectator but not the animal. Every lidia — an individual bullfight between a bull and a matador — is a ritual orchestrated to injure and then exhaust the animal so that it can be more easily killed. Whatever that is (and opponents call it torture), it’s not sporting.

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