I went to a bullfight ("corrida" in Spanish and transferred into French as such) yesterday. I didn't know what exactly to expect. You know the bull's going to get fucked up, but you don't know how they arrive at this point. You ask yourself, is it really going to be a massacre? is it really going to be art? is it going to be somewhere in between? Always the populist, I fall on the "somewhere in between." It is a foregone conclusion. El torro doesn't stand an iceberg's chance in hell in leaving the arènes in any capacity other than the back of a butcher shop's truck (honestly). However, to get there it is quite a show.
The basic layout is the bull comes into the arena, he runs around chasing the guys with the pink capes. Then they send the picadors out with their horses. The picadors lance the bulls' neck muscles so they can not snap their head up as quickly. This isn't always such a one-sided battle, sort of. As you can see in the above photo, sometimes the bull gets the best of the horse. After the horse got leveled by the bull, the picador was face to face with the bull at about two feet. I thought we were going to see the guy take it in the eye, but luckily the helpers just around and thrust their pink capes in the bull's face and the picador was able to be dragged away (he got a nice slice opened on his leg by the horn).
After this part the matador goes one-on-one against the bull to place spikes in the bull's back to further weaken his muscles (below left) and then matador goes one-on-one with the cape; this is the part that is so oftenly stereotyped (below right).
Ok, as to whether this is cruel, inhumane and PETA-approved. My answers are maybe, probably not, and who knows, weirder things have happened, such as God choosing GWB for the White House.
These bulls live a pretty good life for 4 years or so. They eat and run around, probably screw a lot. If we compare this life with that of cattle, sheep, chickens, whatever, that are destined for my dinner plate; they live in tiny little plots, are force-fed antibiotics and grain, and disposed of on the "killing floor" (it's really more of a killing grate, Billy).
A bullfight lasts about 15 to 20 minutes. They stick very sharp objects into the bull. This can not feel good, however, you rarely get the impression that the bull is in pain. For the most part it does not act like an animal in pain. This is not to say that they are not in pain - I am sure it hurts, but you do not get the feeling that it is suffering a great deal. Up to this point, I have few problems - the only part that is disturbing is the coup de grâce. In theory, the matador is supposed to pierce a vital organ (I assume the heart is the most vital) by thrusting a sword into the back of the bull. A good thrust will kill the bull within a half a minute or less. However, this is rarely the case (or at least last night it was rarely the case). It is very painful to watch them try to kill this animal and not be able to. A few times it was very obvious that the bull was distressed and there are all these guys dressed in tights and pink socks are trying to dispatch it.
As I mentioned above, these bulls are then sent to the resturants to make torro steaks and torro pot roast. the killing is not in vain, per se. Over all, it is a very interesting performance with an ending as unknown as that of Star Wars, Episode III. I would probably go to see another if I was given the opportunity, if for nothing else than to be able to see how my opinion fortifies/changes from another example. I do not feel that it is overtly cruel, as I mentioned above, nor do I feel that it is inhumane, in the way killing 50 PETA members for no reason would be inhumane. This bull was raised with one destiny in mind and he has fulfilled this destiny.