CRIS COHEN, is staff humor columnist for Renaissance Magazine. His work is also published weekly in three California newspapers and four online humor magazines
A Load of Bull
I just saw a television promo for the local news. A promo is one of those quick segments where they say things like "Why you could die any minute now. Tonight at eleven."
The big story that they teased just a minute ago was "A bull fight turns violent." I guess it was kind of a slow news day. "Tonight on action news: a woman makes muffins." Personally I kept waiting for them to say more. A bull fight turns violent AND the concession stand runs out of nuts . . . AND people are forced to pay a lot for carpeting . . . AND scientists discover that you don't always have room for Jello. There just had to be something more.
As they left it, it just kind of seemed matter of fact. It's like doing a story about a politician dropping his pants in public. It pretty much happens every day. "At the sound of the zipper the time will be exactly 12:30."
First of all, what isn't violent about the term "bull fight"? It seems pretty self-explanatory to me. And I don't think many people at the event were expecting to see a demonstration of advanced pottery. "Bull fight" is not one of those terms that could be misinterpreted. "You know, Helen, at the time it sounded like a swell idea for the school carnival. But now I don't think those kids will ever get out of therapy."
And who goes to a bull fight not expecting to see violence? Personally I've never been to one, but I doubt you ever hear someone say, "Boy, that part at the end was a shocker." It's like walking out of a boxing match and saying, "I had no idea they were going to start hitting each other." Those things are commonplace at those kind of events, which is probably why boxer Mike Tyson resorted to cannibalism that one time. He probably decided that two people beating the tar out of each other was pretty boring for people to watch. I mean, you can see that happening between parents at a Little League game. Thus he decided that to be truly original nowadays you have to eat your opponent. As a result, he got a lot of publicity. Although he probably didn't get a lot of offers to do commercials for things like A-1 Steak Sauce. "Hi, I'm Mike Tyson. When I'm (censored) and eating (censored) I like A-1 Steak Sauce, particularly on the (censored)."
But that's the kind of thing that your average television news program is looking for. This is why the station I was watching showed the bull fighting footage twice in a thirty-minute broadcast. The second time I'm not sure it even had anything to do with the bull fighting story. "And let's take a look at how the economy did this week. Well as you can see the DOW took a beating." The anchor did look very serious though when she was introducing the footage. It was one of those looks that said, "The film you are about to see contains graphic violence and we here at Channel 53 are very sorry that we don't have stuff like this every night."
And who knows, maybe they will have film like that more often.
"Harold, our interview with the mayor fell through. So to fill in the gap we're going to film you taunting a large, easily-irritated animal that weighs slightly more than your car."
Because that's basically what bull fighting is, which is what makes it hard to believe that the people weren't expecting at least a slight possibility of violence. "I don't know why it got so angry all of a sudden. All I did was repeatedly smack it in the face with my cape and then stab it with this long sword. Maybe it misconstrued something I said."
"Yes, Diego. Speaking of shocking, did you hear about that politician and his pants?"
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