Matt Damon is currently in Mexico for production of his latest film, Elysium, in which he plays an ex-convict with a shaved head (what, I’m not on FilmDrunk’s dollar today), and he decided to go against every travel warning in North America and partake in some local cultures away from his highly-protected hotel suite. Seriously, I know Mexican people who won’t go to Mexico anymore, but Damon wants to party, so who’s going to tell him no?
Unfortunately, the cultural pastime in question was bullfighting, a controversial Latin American “sport” that pits a strangely dressed man with a red cape against a giant, pissed off bull that has already been wounded to make it easier for the dude in the bedazzled Capri pants to win. But while Mexicans love their bullfighting, us cultured folk here in the U.S. of A equally love passing judgment, and I assume that Damon has a huge heap of judgment coming his way.
I haven’t read much of the media backlash and public outcry against the beloved star of The Talented Mr. Ripley and The Legend of Bagger Vance yet, but I did make the mistake of reading some Internet comment sections and comparisons to Michael Vick are already being made by every Average Joe with a keyboard. The NFL star’s crimes are still fresh in our minds, which means that they’re going to be similar despite not being similar at all. The always rational people at PETA might use that perspective to go after Damon, but I assume that they will start with their well-documented stance on bullfighting.
Each year, approximately 250,000 bulls die in bullfights,(1) an inaccurate term for events in which there is very little competition between a nimble, sword-wielding matador (Spanish for “killer”) and a confused, maimed, psychologically tormented, and physically debilitated animal.(2) According to one matador, some of the top performers may “ask breeders to deliberately select placid bulls …. It’s the only way to sustain your energy for the duration of the season.”(3)
And so on.
If I had to guess, Damon had a day off and someone asked, “Hey Matt, do you want to go to a bullfight?” And he was probably like, “You know, I’ve always wanted to go to one of those” like it was a taco joint or a donkey show, and so he went. Of course someone spotted him in the crowd, snapped a few pics and made a few grand selling them to tabloids. Now is that anything like what Vick did? No, of course not. But it’s going to be fun watching talking heads and activists compare the two, especially for the race debate. And the arguments will be terrible and way off base, but we all know they're coming.
Is Damon a dumb dick who should have known better than to attend something as controversial as a bullfight? Absolutely. He deserves PETA’s scorn the same way that Pedro Martinez deserved it for his role in Dominican cock fighting, and God knows PETA has attacked less-deserving people for next to no reason. But I just hope we can preemptively agree to lay off the Vick stuff. And yes, I know that the entire cable news world is laughing at my naïveté.
(Images via The Daily Mail)