Watching “Fearless”

Markus’s Mama pointed out that I’ve been quiet for a while, so I got busy, and here it is.

Watching “Fearless”

If you haven’t seen the Netflix series, “Fearless,” do it. Take advantage of their one month free offer. If you like the Brazilian riders, you need to see this series. If you hate the Brazilian riders, you really need to see this series.

Sean Gleason is the Consulting Producer on the series, which is produced by Boardwalk Pictures, a multimedia documentary company based in California.

Unfortunately, in an effort to be dramatic and prove that bull riding is so dangerous that one must be fearless to be a bull rider, it opens with footage of Neil Holmes after his horrible wreck, being lifted out of the arena on a stretcher. I’m sure we’d all like to forget that incident.

Episode #1: Shining Knows No Borders (Yeah, tell that to the haters.)

First we get Sean Gleason, J.B. Mauney, Ty Murray, Chad Berger, and that jerk from the Texas Star Telegram (Brett Hoffman) opining. Even in a documentary that’s supposed to focus on Brazilian riders, we have to have a dose of J.B.

“Money is what drives bull riding,” says Hoffman. Um, some people do it because they love it. You mean, money is what drives the PBR. The riders who aren’t in the PBR and make doodleysquat really must love it. And if you asked riders what’s the most important thing about bull riding, most of the Brazilian riders, at least, would say it’s to be able to give their kids a better life and a good education, not “I want to be rich!”

I’m just askin’: Why did they include the footage of some blonde starting to “sing” the national anthem?

“The last seven years the Brazilians have been the best.” – Sean Gleason said. Read it and weep, you Brazilian-haters. Even he has to admit it.

J.B. talked about people who don’t like the Brazilians. Finally, I’m glad to hear one of you guys admit there are such people.

Ty talked about how the Brazilians have helped the sport so much, raising the level of competition. Yeah, and that’s what certain sore loser fans (you know who you are) hate. Now the other riders have to step up their game and not do things like show up for work drunk or hung over.

Adriano Moraes talked about the only escapes from where he grew up: soccer and bull riding. “I was a terrible soccer player,” he said. (In case you didn’t know, he lived in a tin-roofed house with a dirt floor and a whole lot of siblings.) “Education is not available for everybody.” And that is what the Brazilian bull riders want to provide for their children. Think about it: have you ever heard any other bull rider say that?

On the Alves ranch in Decatur, Texas, Silvano said, “I have only God to thank.”

Adriano called Silvano Alves “the greatest bull rider that ever lived… it took me 17 years to win two titles!”

About João Ricardo Vieira: “He was born a star.”

We get introduced to Silvano’s grandfather and his father, both bull riders, in Pilar do Sul, San Pãolo. Alves has been winning trophies since he was 7.

“He’s going to be the only guy to do it four times.” Adriano said about Alves winning the PBR World Championship. Hey, Adriano—weren’t you paying attention to what was happening to Silvano, courtesy of the judges, in 2013? He already has won four World Championships—they just gave the trophy to someone else.

Victor from WME/IMG showed up, which is a good thing, so that entity isn’t totally faceless. Can’t remember his last name, though. William Morris Endeavor/ International Management Group is the huge talentmonger that bought the PBR.

Bull riding apparently is televised in 300 million homes. I don’t know how they figure that out, unless there are a lot of Nielsen boxes out there.

Nice to see the low-key bullriding clinic in Itatinga run by Vieira; that’s where you see the stars of tomorrow just starting to get on bulls. Loved his story about being a kid and sneaking out to a bull riding, when only his grandmother knew. Grandmas are good like that.

Rancho Primavera, a big rodeo in Brazil, held an event in his honor. He was referred to as João Ricardo Vieira da Silva; is that his whole name? and if it is, why is the PBR using only part of it?

Adriano said about Vieira: “a late bloomer, 30-31, but he’s healthy as a coconut.” Moraes has a gift for words.

Excellent message: a photo of Vieira on a flag that combines the U.S. and Brazilian flags. He’s an international rider, get it?

Adriano’s explanation of the origin of rodeo whizzed by me.

As another cautionary tale, the filmmaker included a bad Ben Jones wreck. We don’t like to look at that either, folks. We hate it when Ben gets hurt.

Silvano Alves talked about his attitude toward life; one bit I caught was, “And trust what God has planned for you.” He also talked about asking for God’s blessing.

Now that’s a rodeo! Barretos hosts 90,000 people per day over 10 days.

At the family barbecue, we see how much JRV looks like his father.

“We’re all cowboys. We’re all part of the same family.” I’m not sure who said that, but I like it!

They shot a long sequence of Silvano in the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, in Barretos, where he talked quite openly about how his fractured hip affected him. That was his first injury in 10 years. Alves comes across as very thoughtful and humble. “There is a reason for everything,” he said, and talked more about God. He admitted he had been scared of the surgery, and was nervous about riding.

The scene in the church was intercut with more bits of Moraes. He talked about having lost three friends in bull riding, and said he knows three or four who are paralyzed. They interviewed one who was a paraplegic. “Sports Illustrated voted it the most dangerous sport there is,” Adriano said. “We block the fear factor. If we realized how dangerous the sport is, we wouldn’t do it,” he laughed. Somber note: “The day that you doubt yourself, there’s going to be problems, even if you are Silvano Alves.” And sure enough, that’s what’s been happening this season.

Episode #2 – A Harvest in August

Lots of footage of the 60th Barretos rodeo.

Really interesting comments from Guilherme Marchi and JRV about Silvano—which for some reason I can’t remember.

Cody Nance showed a bit of humility when talking about his experience being in a country where you can’t speak the language; he may have had a glimmer of what the Brazilians have gone through up here.

J.B.’s comments: “It made me realize how hard it is for those guys up here. When I got there, I couldn’t understand anybody, I didn’t know where I was going, I had to rely on everybody… I had a whole different respect for them when I went down there and realized—wow.” He also talked about not understanding a thing people said, and having to fill out all kinds of paperwork.

After Nance made 8, the announcer says, “A hell of a bull rider, dude.” I have yet to hear any American announcer try to say anything in Portuguese.

“Now I understand why the Brazilians do so well coming to America. It’s very ?? [KD Note: I missed something there] if you got your mind right. They don’t understand anything anybody’s saying so they just keep their minds focused on one thing, bull riding. You’re as good as who you compete with, and for me that’s a lesson.” Wish I could remember if that was Cody or J.B. talking.

Former president of Barretos Rodeo Kaka Santos made an appearance. Adriano called Barretos “a rodeo temple.” Moraes talked about not staying in 5-star hotels down there when he was young; most riders preferred to stay on the grounds. We see a clip of some guys camping out. In the beginning of his career, Moraes said, he “stayed in places where there was no running water; I had to find a creek. My bathroom was the woods.” He never won Barretos. “It’s going to bother me for the rest of my life.”

Ty Murray: “No World Champion has ever won Barretos. That’s kinda crazy.” That might change this year, dude, the other way around: Pacheco has already won Barretos.

Cute segment: Marchi singing to himself as he walks around the rodeo grounds and meets up with his family. His father’s handsome, too. Sean Gleason said Marchi is the most positive, upbeat athlete he’s ever seen. I’m pretty sure everyone would agree.

More cute footage: Marchi on an ATV waiting for his kids to come off the school bus, and they climb on with him. His (former) wife Patricia demonstrated barrel racing, with his daughter on a horse behind her. Sitting on a very domesticated bull with his son in front of him, Marchi gets the bull to lie down, then gradually dismounts, leaving his son holding the rope. The bull slowly gets up and starts walking, and the boy holds onto the rope and practices moving his free arm.

Marchi: “Family is everything.”

Adriano re Pacheco: “I’ve known that kid since he was a baby. He’s a third-generation bull rider, so he’s got good genes.”

Kaique looks just like his father; it just tickles me.

Exciting sequence from Barretos: Marchi needing 90 points to take the lead, gets it, then Kaique, needing 69 points to win, has a bull fall sideways and squash him. As soon as he’s out from under, he gets right back on another bull, and wins the event.

In Charlotte, NC, 1 month before Finals:

“We must dedicate ourselves to what we want to do. And I chose to ride bulls.” – Kaique

“We don’t ride just for the fun, just for the heck of it. Every single rider wants to be the best bull rider in the world. If you focus on winning, you’re going to be a loser. If you focus on riding, you’re going to be a winner.” – Adriano.

Ty called Marchi “durable.” Yep, that guy has outlasted a lot of people.

2015 Barretos Finals: the field narrows from 40 to 20 riders in the semi-finals, then 10 in the finals. JRV got injured in the chute, then fell off the bull, and it stepped on his shin.

“The most charismatic competitor” is what the announcer called Guilherme. Amen.

“Man, what a beautiful thing you did today,” – Marchi to Kaique after Pacheco won Barretos. Talk about gracious!

Renato Nunes enters the picture, saying he used to live off the money he made working on other peoples’ farms. “Then I said to myself, ‘I want to have my own farms.’”

Episode #3: The Thrill is Gone

Opening shot of Spiderman sitting looking dejected, obviously after a buckoff. We haven’t seen him around the BFTS lately, have we?

How adorable is this: Renato showing his daughter Renata how to ride a bucking machine sheep.

“I am no longer living the dream I had,” Renato explained his decision to retire. “And if you’re not living the dream, why live at all?”

“This is what I love to do. I was born to do it,” Kaique said. His mother was right on the dirt cheering next to him.

Why on earth was there a segment hyping J.B. Mauney in the middle of this series, showing him “winning” in Las Vegas? As my friend Fran would say: “Feh.”

At the Nunes farm in Zacarias, Brazil, Renato talked about his brother who in 1995 got head-butted by a bull, was in a coma for 17 days, and when he woke up, for two years he couldn’t remember who anyone was. Now he limps and still sometimes doesn’t remember who his family members are.

“For those who have faith, nothing is impossible,” Pacheco said, and considering his trajectory, I’d have to agree. He started riding bulls at 12, and before he was 21, he was Rookie of the Year on the Built Ford Tough Series.

Marchi said 2015 was the worst year of his career. His bull in Thackerville stumbled, gave him a shot in the knee, and tore his MCL and PCL. We see him doing rehab exercises. “But let’s see what God has planned for me,” he said.

Really funny: Kaique on a hotel room bed, watching his rides on an Apple laptop to learn how to fix his mistakes. There’s a very telling scene in another hotel room: Valdiron de Oliveira, Robson Palermo, and Renato Nunes talking about Kaique’s focus, and Renato’s desire to retire. “I don’t need this anymore,” he said. The other two guys look wistful. Something led up to Renato joking: “If I were a woman, I would hit on Kaique.” The other guys: “If you were a woman, Kaique wouldn’t even notice you, he’s focused on bull riding.” Joking about how all Pacheco thinks about is bulls. “I’m still here, but what am I here for?”  Renato asks the existential question. Big story there—he bought a farm and brought his father there; he was very determined to have a place of his own, animals of his own. That’s his motivation. I’d have to call it security and independence, and that’s why he went for the money.

Another scene of Renata Nunes riding a bucking machine, with her father showing her how to wrap. Very cool dad.

Hilarious: a name tag on the pen: Hello, my name is Air Time.

The action: J.B. gets bucked off, Kaique rides for 88, and the crowd goes silent, instead of cheering. You can call them people who hate the Brazilians. Can’t even appreciate a great ride when they see one, because it’s not their boy on the bull’s back.

Basically, the episode was about what it’s like for a bull rider nearing the end of his career.

Episode #4 – THE OUTSIDERS

Alves talked about how the Brazilian riders feel alone in the States, people look down on them, make jokes. Family and friends are far away. So they build a bond with one another, are always at each other’s houses. He also talked about how when somebody gets hurt, they lose confidence. It’s certainly happened to him.

Adriano talking about Robson: “Palermo’s a fighter. He has the strength to face everything that’s thrown at him. He’s going to prove one of the greatest bull riders that ever lived.” Already done it, dude.

Robson bought a ranch in Tyler in 2008, and more recently bought one in Bullard. His son Mateus is adorable and looks like him; Robson shows him how to ride a calf.

Renato’s ranch in Boyd, Texas. He came to the U.S. in 2004-2006 alone to see if he could make enough money here. Yeah, I’d say he’s tough enough.

Valdiron’s ranch in Boyd. Paolo, his son, tried bull riding when he was 8. Valdiron’s kids were born here, so they speak English; his son plays American football, and doesn’t want to go to Brazil.

Gleason talking about how the Brazilians are performing: “Maybe ten years ago it was surprising that these young Brazilian kids were coming up here and performing at such a high level, but in the last few years there’s been a little bit of Brazilian domination. They’ve come in and taken all the titles and taken all the money; there’s just no ifs ands or buts about it. You look at the record books and the World Champions in the last ten years, and the Brazilians have earned every one.” Yeah, even the one the PBR handed to J.B. Mauney.

Renato: “The PBR wants us to come from other countries, but we are not treated like everybody else when we get here.” He talked about a fancy banquet there used to be after Finals, “but they don’t have it anymore, because who would want to hear a Brazilian speaking– because only Brazilians are winning.” “Many things that the PBR does are questionable,” he said. They showed the clip from the event where he was so pissed off about being put on the clock, and said right in front of the camera: “They treat you like crap here, almost always. I have 30 seconds, I can do anything I want.” He had a monster ride, but was scored 81. He objected, because on bulls that give others 90s, Brazilians get 85. Speaking truth to power.

Gleason claims there’s no bias in the PBR “as it relates to the judges, and we do extensive analysis to make sure that that’s the case.” Give me a f***ing break! All the evidence is to the contrary.

JRV: “We want to be judged fairly like the other riders.” Seems like a reasonable expectation.

Then they showed Robson’s wrecks, including one where he got a concussion. He’s sitting with his head down on a table, but as soon as someone comes into the room, he wants to know his score.

“I don’t think them judges score anyone unfairly.”—J.B. Mauney. How would he know? They rain 90s on him almost every time he makes 8.  “You gotta take the good with the bad.” Oh, really? When have they ever scored him badly? Here’s an example: in Tucson he needed 86.50 to take the lead; they gave him 88.

“We are not just competing against the other competitors, we compete against the judges, too,” Kaique said. “If a Brazilian wins here, they deserved it. They can’t take it away.”

JB:  “There’s a lot of people say, they’re on his side, they’re on his side, they want him to win—if [I’m #1] in the world, I don’t want anybody to be able to say, well, they gave it to him.” Well, they did, Blanche; they did.

Needs 89.75 to win the round, they gave him 90

Episode #5-  Glory and the Price Paid

So annoying to have the first person we see be J.B. Like we can’t go a half hour without him.

Next scene opens on Robson’s ranch with him bottle-feeding a calf, then we see Lucas, his baby who was born during the Springfield event. He said usually he calls his wife after an out. She went into labor while he was 9 hours away, but he talked to her almost the whole time.

JRV has a college degree in zootechnics, did you know that? His mother wanted him to be a doctor: “Now that you have your college degree, will you quit this bull riding thing?” Kinda like Bruce Springsteen’s mother saying to him, “When are you going to get a real job?” (Oh, yes she did.)

Those silver bull heads with the eyes flashing red and smoke pouring out of their noses are hysterical. The first time I saw them in Madison Square Garden, I laughed my head off, while being mortified.

Marchi with a torn PCL and MCL still rode in the Finals. Then he talked about his divorce, obviously hurting.

One of the dopey announcers said of JRV: “Is tonight the night he gets hot?” LOL

The judges gave no score to Kaique because the bull’s horn came up and touched his hand. I recall that once when a bull came up and hit a rider (not a Brazilian rider), he was allowed to score; they actually made the distinction between when a rider touches a bull, and when a bull touches a rider. KP: “The judges think they’re right. I don’t think it’s right.”

Valdiron and Nunes having a conversation in the locker room: “Why kill yourself riding bulls if you don’t want to be there anymore?” Renato said.

We see Alves in physical therapy having a miserable time, yet he says, “With God’s help we can accomplish anything.”

Nunes: “When you stop riding bulls, there’s nothing to do in the USA. I want them to say, ‘Renato stopped riding bulls, but he gave the Americans a run for their money.’” And he did.

This one made me wince: Robson’s son is playing with a toy bull and cowboy.  Robson asks him, “Who’s going to ride him?” His son says, “J.B.” Then he says “Uncle Silvano” is going to fall off, and he makes the cowboy fall. He even doesn’t let his father ride. Even he’s brainwashed by the PBR’s Mauney Mania.

Then we see the terrible wreck that took Palermo out of commission for a long time. One of those horrible silence-in-the-arena times, and eventually he’s taken out on a backboard, neck stabilized, and anyone who didn’t know the outcome would think, That guy is now paralyzed. The camera practically rides into the ambulance with him. Then we see Priscila holding Lucas as they travel to the hospital and wait to hear what’s happening with Robson. What was not funny was the sound track: funeral music played as they took Robson out of the arena.

Episode #6 – Being Mortal

Somebody has to explain to me those horrible fake humans at the top of each episode. They’re amateurish and badly done.

“I have always told my mother and father I want to die inside the arena, doing what I love most in my life, which is bullriding… Die happy.”—Marchi, who makes you want to kill him. I thought he cared about his kids. Not so happy for them if he died in the arena.

Robson in the hospital: they kept the suspense going, until the announcement that his injury isn’t as serious as they thought.

Marchi was out for 1/3 of the season with his knee injury and needed surgery. The video showed him making the ride, then grabbing onto two guys to help himself stay upright and get out of the arena.

The shithead judges gave JRV 86 when he needed 86.25 to win. They deliberately didn’t squeak out that last .25. J.B. rode well, and they gave him 86.50 when he needed 87.75 to win. That score isn’t as much of a shock as you realize why the judges didn’t bestow one of their customary 90s on him: they needed to have a last day of Finals. “And the world must wait 24 hours at least before we know our World Champion,” says the ever-annoying Craig Hummer.

Silvano on Rebel Yell – “As soon as a person gets hurt, he loses confidence.” “You can’t live off victory alone, you have to live off victory and defeat.”

Kaique’s mother Giovana, crying about him, told the invisible interviewer that he’s helping his family, but had to go away from them to do it.

Cute: Renato asking if his little girl can “jump” the [stuffed] buffalo. Renata is very cool—riding a bull, and saying, “People who say girls can’t ride bulls—well, you can’t ride bulls, so stop talking.” Renato is so proud of her; it’s great that he lets her ride bulls.

Sad that Marchi had to sit out the Finals because of his knees and bicep surgery, especially during the year he got divorced. Even sadder to see Renato retire, but he looked so happy after he did it!

The shithead judges scored Kaique 88.50 when he needed 89+ to win. That left JRV needing 88.50 to win– but they gave him 86.25, to make J.B. the “World Champion.”

“You did so much for the sport. You defended us.”—Marchi said to Nunes as Renato got ready to leave the locker room for the last time. Hilarious – Guilherme giving Renato a baseball cap big enough to cover his ears. “Maybe I’ll defend you some more,” Renato says. Marchi: “You can’t. You retired.”

Adriano talked about feeling like Superman when you’re riding bulls, then when you stop, you have to hang up your cape. “Being mortal hurts.” The perfect summary.

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3 Responses to Watching “Fearless”

  1. Julie Duimstra says:

    ‘Fearless’ is the best documentary I have watched in a long, long time. From the phenomenal opening title sequence through to the final credits, it was an eye opening experience into another culture and into the lives of the Brazilian bull riders following their dreams to become the World Champion in the PBR. This was an entire set of life experiences I knew little to nothing about prior to watching the “docu-series” as it has been described. The series was made with a great deal of heart and it depicts these men and their families overcoming struggles that are not familiar to many of us in the USA. I am a great fan of these true Cowboys, who are modest and humble and, who embody the priciples of the Cowboy Code, intergrity, honesty, loyalty and compassion for others. I wish them all success in their endeavors and to know that each of them holds a place in my heart and mind.


  2. wanda lilley says:

    I enjoyed Fearless very much. Could have done without jb and the news writer. He said he liked it when jb won–not so much a unbiased voice. Especially like when the Brazilian riders are staying, not in hotels but in buildings, in tents and on the ground. Moraes was telling them not to forget where they came from. Also enjoyed Renato’s daughter, Renato. She looks like him and seems to have the same can-do attitude. The fan asking for her picture meant everything to her. I would suggest everyone who gets the chance to watch it.


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