System of a Down: Deer Dance Meaning
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Deer Dance Lyrics
Lamenting in protest
To visible police
Presence sponsored fear
Batallions of riot police
With rubber bullet kisses
Service with a smile
Beyond the staples center you can see america
With it’s tired...
anonymous Sep 4th, 2006 9:10am report
The title of this song refers to the saying "shooting deers in cages" (beating up on inferiors). “deer dance” is an excellent example of a song with profoundly insightful lyrics. The approach is unvarying and rather satirical, clearly aimed at the influx of police brutality—particularly with respect to the los angeles police department.
Serj tankian, the front man for system of a down, is recognized for clever political criticism through his lyrics (often disguised within vague metaphors and images). In “deer dance,” he reveals his distaste for the propaganda supplied by the government to deal with the “malcontents” in society—political ramblings and promises backed up by an imposing and brutal police presence.
In the first verse, serj describes how the government outwits the masses using fear incited by a visible police presence. The “battalions of riot police” provide “service with a smile,” merely doing their jobs to restrain public outrage. However, serj presents a rather interesting idea when he labels the wounds as “rubber bullet kisses”—a satirical euphemism to mock the supposed indifference and fairness supplied by the police.
In the pre-chorus, mention of the staples center (which is a sports stadium in los angeles) paints the scene to be L.A., and the police to be L.A.P.D. Here he addresses his sympathies with the malcontents, describing them as “peaceful, loving youth” who are merely resisting “the brutality of plastic existence”—a mask they refuse to wear any longer. In referring to a plastic existence, I believe that serj simply means a ‘fake’ existence: one of supposed content, but obvious discontent
in the chorus, he presents a very powerful image of the police “pushing little children” around with fully automatic weapons. Clearly, the stark contrast between the powerful and the powerless reveals the extent of the brutality—these inhumane police treat little children as if they’re threatening. Unfortunately, this may be a drastic view and not necessarily reality.
Serj also addresses the political propaganda of the government in the second verse with his description of official statements as a “rush of words” merely “pleading to disperse” the malcontents while a “fall guy” is called upon to take the brunt of the blow (or responsibility). He then denounces the idleness of the american people with regard to these brutality issues, telling them “we can’t afford to be neutral on a moving train.”
in the bridge, serj brings reference to the “deer dance”—a metaphor with various interpretations. Clearly disgusted, serj sarcastically sings, “the little boy smiled, it’ll all be well.” this comment reflects directly upon the political propaganda used to satisfy the masses. However, we all know that pleasant images don’t address a problem—they merely shroud it in lies.
anonymous Jul 7th, 2014 7:54pm report
Clearly this talks about police brutality. Police use fear as a primary weapon (worked in police force for 15 years and many of my co-workers scared the shit out of people). It also talks about the staples center and the protest and how many were beaten brutally with batons and rubber bullets. I quit my job because my co-workers were just too cruel. The police use ALL forms of brutality and it clearly says that in the song...
anonymous Nov 27th, 2012 11:58am report
he doesnt talk about armenia. In third world counties they dont have "plastic existance" or peaceful protesters, or staples centers. plus the most obvious clue is that America doesnt send riot police to 3rd world countries lol
anonymous May 14th, 2011 5:59pm report
The person who said this song had nothing to do with RATM missed the point. Anyone who was at the Democratic National Convention in 2000 that took place outside of the Staples Center knows that this song was written about it, especially, since Serj is known to protest. He was at this protest and experienced the brutality. So he wrote a song that specifically discusses this one protest but can transcend to any protest where the "peaceful loving youth" were brutalized.
If you need it to be spelled out, here ya go:
"Batallions of riot police With rubber bullet kisses"
- At the DNC, there were hundreds, even thousands, of riot police who shot hundreds of rounds into the "peaceful loving" crowd.
"A rush of words Pleading to disperse"
-There was an announcement after they shut the power off on Ozomatli (not RATM) to disperse in 15 minutes. However they shot the rubber bullets in 7.
"Beyond the staples center you can see america
With it’s tired poor avenging disgrace"
-These are the most undisputed lyrics that point directly to the DNC in 2000. When Rage played "Testify," we were screaming right at the Staples Center which is what this verse is discussing.
The rest of the lyrics are talking about the protest but can be projected to any protest... however, if you were at the DNC 2000, you know exactly what Serj is talking about.
This isn't really about the band's champion cause, the Armenian Genocide. This song is directly about the DNC and any other protest that resulted similarly. By the way, the band is not half Armenian, they are full Armenian.
anonymous Apr 30th, 2011 4:23pm report
Its about the peace protest in the 80s (peaceful loving youth) and how there were police riots against these peacful people.and (rubber bullets) and lighter than bullet weopens were used.if you re read the lyrics you'll get the point.and peace riots were held in the staples center.
anonymous Apr 13th, 2011 4:43pm report
i think the lyrics may be referring to the native american deer dance or something similar to it. it makes sense in reference to this song.
The deer dance "symbolizes the struggle between good and evil, through a confrontation between a sacred deer and aggressive coyotes and hunters, bringing to mind parallels of cultural, philosophical, and spiritual struggles as well."
in the song it says "A deer dance, invitation to peace
War staring you in the face, dressed in black
With a helmet, fierce
Trained and appropriate for the malcontents
For the disproportioned malcontents."
i believe it has something to do with the traditional deer dance.
anonymous Mar 29th, 2011 3:43pm report
It's about a bunch of deer getting together and dancing, and how humans cant do that without fighting..
anonymous Feb 1st, 2011 2:27am report
In the "Beyond the staple Center you can see America..." I believe that whole statement is saying....Well look, the staple center holds all kinds of big entertaining events, like the X-games for example, Serj is saying that if you look past that, you can see Americas materialistic youth that are trying to fight the brutality of plastic existence, referring to material items. I do agree that the chorus is referring to police brutality, but in my opinion its against the youth. Again, I am only 16 so if something I have said is just completely wrong, excuse me. Email me if anyone has anything to comment to me about. Srg1109@gmail.com
anonymous Jul 10th, 2010 7:00am report
People this song has lots of meanings don't fight each other because all of your interpretations might be true
this song is about the Democratic National Convention in 2000 they sing about the staples center where it took place "where the rubber bullet kisses baton courtesy service with a smile" refers to the brutality of the police when they broke up the riot that ensued after RATM finished their concert there.
anonymous Nov 26th, 2009 11:40am report
when he says "we cant offord to be nutral on a moveing train" he's quoteing howard zinn, author of the peoples history of the united states.
anonymous May 27th, 2009 5:55am report
It is about police brutality that happen during the DNS at wich RATM played, you would know this if you where there. it was fuct up my friend got a rubber bullet kiss that night.
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