Juan Francisco Gutiérrez Lozano
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Football and bullfighting on television
Spectacle and Spanish identity during Franco’s dictatorship
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This chapter examines how the Franco government used traditional (agrarian) forms of popular entertainment – including bullfighting, football and copla (a form of popular song) – to attract viewers to television and to develop a distinctively national sense of culture and identity. In this way, popular television entertainment, marked by a nationalistic, television-generated ‘star system’, became a vehicle for the dictatorship to promote an image of Spain as a centralised, unified and patriotic nation of strong men. The chapter gives an account of the rise and popularity of televised football and bullfighting, and of the resulting elevation of Real Madrid and El Cordobés to star status. It concludes by arguing that these escapist television entertainment forms represented a type of ‘low-cost manipulation’ designed to make the dictatorship socially acceptable and pacify political dissent.

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