In the middle of February I entered in the "News" section of this Web Page a series of cartoons signed by Olin Yoder, which I titled, with a certain lack of originality, but very descriptively, as "Taurine Humor" (see TAURINE HUMOR.)
Olin Yoder is a Maryland artist. He has been living in the suburban Baltimore area for many years, dedicating his life to teaching art and painting. He possesses a good sense of humor that is manifested in his cartoons as well as in his lively art conferences, at some of which he has invited me to speak of bullfighting as a form of art. Olin is also an enthusiastic bullfighting aficionado, and we have talked about bullfighting on many occasions. He has often made me smile with his humorous observations about toros and toreros.
One day he surprised me showing me several cartoons, saying "Mario, this may be how the bulls see bullfighting." I laughed since I agreed that, as shown in one of his cartoons; it would be a logical assumption that the bulls would yell "ole" when seeing a torero having trouble in the arena. It would be the same as if a cartoon were to show a bunch of turkeys dancing and shouting 'hallelujah' while the Pope makes an announcement that to eat turkey meat at Christmas will be considered a capital sin. I would not conclude that the cartoonist or the editor of the publication was anti-Catholic or pro-turkey.
Some people apparently apply different logic, or have a different sense of humor than I do, since a couple of days after I posted the cartoons, I received an e-mail from an aficionado with the following short message: "I don't appreciate this anti-torero staff (sic). Bad taste. Hope you can improve with a better comic next time."
I can understand that the sender of the e-mail did not appreciate the irony of the cartoons, since the perceptions of ideas differ from person to person. On the other hand, it is difficult for me to comprehend that the passion to defend the fiesta made the writer of the e-mail misinterpret the intention of the artist who drew the cartoons, as well as my decision to include them in MMDT.
First, since by tradition, profession, and vocation my life is linked to bullfighting, as my curriculum vitae and writings show, why should I shoot myself in my foot by including anti-torero material in MMDT? Why would an artist who finds inspiration in bullfighting attack the fiesta brava? It makes no sense whatsoever. Our only purpose was to elicit smiles on the faces of the readers.
These comments are motivated not only by the passionate and critical message that I cited, but also by other similar e-mails that I read from time to time in the taurine chat rooms. Taurine chat rooms such as Mundo Taurino provide a unique service for the aficionados to exchange information and express opinions about el toreo. Most of the time it is a pleasure to follow the lively, rational exchanges and learn something from them. On the other hand, occasionally radical taurine voices of preachers of doom are heard discussing controversial topics, such as indultos, tremendismo, toreo de rodillas, trapio or others. Then, those self-appointed defenders of the purity of the fiesta seem to say "my way or the highway", calling the persons questioning their views epithets a lot worse than "anti-torero" or "bad comic."
A little taurine humor can come in handy to tone down the heated discussions and to tame some of the acerbic e-mails.