Circumventing circuses, lamenting in protests...
Circumventing circuses,
Lamenting in protest,
To visible police,
Presence sponsored fear,

Battalions of riot police,
With rubber bullet kisses,
Baton courtesy,
Service with a smile

Beyond the Staples Center you can see America,
With its tired, poor, avenging disgrace,
Peaceful, loving youth against the brutality,
Of plastic existence.

Pushing little children,
With their fully automatics,
They like to push the weak around,
Pushing little children,
With their fully automatics,
They like to push the weak around.

A rush of words,
Pleading to disperse,
Upon your naked walls, alive,
A political call,
The fall guy accord,
We can't afford to be neutral on a moving train,

Beyond the Staples Center you can see America,
With its tired, poor, avenging disgrace,
Peaceful, loving youth against the brutality,
Of plastic existence.

Pushing little children,
With their fully automatics,
They like to push the weak around,
Pushing little children,
With their fully automatics,
They like to push the weak around.

Push them around,
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

The little boy smiled
It'll all be well,
The little boy smiled
It'll all be well

Pushing little children,
With their fully automatics,
They like to push the weak around,
Pushing little children,
With their fully automatics,
They like to push the weak around.
Pushing little children,
With their fully automatics,
They like to push the weak around,
Push the weak around,
Push the weak around,
Push the weak around,
They like to push the weak around.


Lyrics submitted by F4RiD

"Deer Dance" as written by Shavo Odadjian Daron Malakian

Lyrics © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

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Deer Dance song meanings
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118 Comments

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  • +8
    General Comment“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 frontman 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. Personally, I view this dance as a struggle between the brutal police and the malcontents: a battle that rages round and round. He describes this battle as a war; a drastic exaggeration, yet innately precise. The “fierce” police are “trained and appropriate for the malcontents” who are rather disproportioned (arguably less in number than the police, but this too is open for interpretation). 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.

    Reflecting on the song, I’ve found that police brutality is definitely an important societal issue. As citizens, we’re caught in quite a pickle between the respect and admiration for authority and the distaste for its actions. A call to arms is necessary, however, to ensure that brutality is continuously denounced into oblivion.
    Surrealxon April 14, 2002   Link
  • +5
    General CommentSimple enough. A song for anyone who has been a victim of police brutality.
    RaVEon December 05, 2001   Link
  • +3
    General CommentObviously anyone can tell what this song is about, but im gonna tell you how they named it deer dance, well, its why i think they named it that. i read on a website that the origin of the deer dance came from a native american that was out on a picnic. after he finished eating he got up and left and he forgot his handkerchief(i think thats spelled right) and when he realized that he forgot it he went back and it was laying on the ground and there were deer dancing around it. and the man could hear the deers thoughts and um, i cant remember what they were thinking because i dont think it said that part. what i think they were thinking was how they didnt want this strange thing laying out in their forest so their dance was a form of protest. so the way i look at it is, the deer couldve attacked the man for leaving it there, but that would only lead to more violence, so the same way the deer were protesting this strange thing laying in their home, theres the people who gather and protest in non-violent ways. you gotta understand that..... if not maybe im a moron. yeah that makes more sense to me.
    themosquitogodon April 29, 2002   Link
  • +3
    General CommentJust to throw in something to make you think, Howard Zinn, a historian looking at the idea of neutrality and political leanings affecting ones take on history wrote a book about it, showing how ones political leanings will affect everything they do, this was called "you cant afford to be neutral on a moving train" this makes me think that the ideas being passed around may be be benefitted from this idea and maybe put into a different perspective.
    Robbbon March 10, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General Commenti can't beleive nobody has put this together, but the song is clearly about protesters, a la Nover 1999 WTO protests. the Staples Center, while also being in LA, was the site of one of the party's conventions (GOP or DEM, i can't recall, shows how much i care) but the protests were broken up by cops, surprise, with less than freindly methods. so beyond the Staples Center, ie beyond the face of modern politics, you can see the real America, which is what the protesters are 'fighting' for before being put down. who do you think the little children are? all the college students on the streets, and of course of those protesting only a tiny proportion are actually violent (most just sit down), which is the crack about the disproportioned malcontents. no more essays, this is the difinitive answer.
    shoelesszon May 20, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI agree with most of what's been said. I just wanted to add that I think the whole verse "A rush of words...we can't afford to be neutral on a moving train" is saying that law enforcement and the goverment would not be able to get away with the power trips and the brutality if the people of America all spoke out strongly against it. Doing what we're doing however (sitting back and complaning a bit) isn't helping anyting. The line "We can't afford to be neutral on a moving train" illustrates that the best.
    Alyss21on February 22, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentMan, is it just me or does it seem like Daron rrrrrrrreally needs to lay off the crack? have you seen the fucker perform live? the crazy little shit twitched and bounces around like a mexican in an immigration office. dont get offended by that, i am mexican and i believe that you have no right to laugh at anyone else if you cant laugh at yourself.
    themosquitogodon April 19, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General CommentOmigod this is not an essay contest.. you don't have to write a paper here.. ANYWAYS.. I just wanted to comment that i like this song. And i do believe that it's about violence, and riots and stuff like that.. cha know.
    RudeMinnesotanon May 15, 2002   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationOk guys, I believe I've uncrypted what the song's meaning is what it is saying.

    First of all, it is a political song about protesters. Second of all, they are talking about the government using riot police to settle the entire "peaceful" protest. By breaking down the song into small parts I will interpret there meanings and what are actually singing about.

    Edit: I hate how I can't erase some of my writing without it writing over my new constructed paragraphs ~ oh well :/

    Was I good so far? I know I didn't explain at all to show the meaning of the song but I am very confident in what it means.

    "Circumventing Circuses" = Ignoring circuses (not actually circuses but if you think about it circuses are always packed with people which could be a reference to protesters.

    Edit: please excuse my awful constructive comment - it's very hard to write with this bug.

    To visible police,
    Presence sponsored fear

    When they send the riot police they itimidate the protesters and try to get them scared so the back off. It's ass move by the government but that is what they are most likely trying to say.

    Have to go right now but I hope this helps!
    DeadOneon January 11, 2013   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYeah, I agree that it is about police brutality. But I'd say it's specifically focussed on situations where peaceful protests are violently treated by riot police/military, etc.
    I think it uses the contrasting imagery of little children (teenage/youth protestors) and the fully automatic holding riot police to show how excessive use of force can be taken for granted in a democratic society...
    mycatharsison December 14, 2001   Link

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