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Bulls on Parade Analysis

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“Bulls on Parade” by Rage Against The Machine is a social commentary on the state of the federal government. The song criticizes the government’s excessive use of force in dealing with foreign and domestic issues. Unlike the pro-peace songs of the 60’s and 70’s, “Bulls on Parade” takes a more confrontational and controversial approach, directly accusing the government of unnecessarily aggressive actions and chicken hawk policies, even going so far as to accuse them of criminality.

In the opening stanza of the song, Rage makes reference to the resistance movements of the past. The verse “the microphone explodes, shattering the molds, either drop the hits like De La O or get the f#ck off the commode” refers to De La O, a dynamite expert associated with the Mexican War for Independence. I believe Rage is comparing themselves to De La O in this verse. Rage is saying that their hit songs, like de la O’s explosive devices, can both be used to “shatter the molds”, or reform the corrupt policies of the past. Rage then takes a bold step by comparing U.S. Department of Defense officials to Italian mob bosses in the verse “terror rains drenching, quenching the thirst of the power don’s, that five sided fist-a-gon.” By turning the Pentagon, a symbol of national defense, into a symbol of misguided aggression, this verse establishes their viewpoint that the United States uses self-defense to mask their true intentions for military action. Rage also brings notice to the use of American tax dollars to enlarge our military forces in order to carry out these immoral actions when they say “the rotten sore on the face of the earth gets bigger, the triggers cold empty your purse.”

The chorus of the song is the most widely recognized portion of the song, however I feel that it is also the most widely open to differing interpretation. “They rally round the family with a pocket full of shells” could be interpreted to encourage resistance of government corruption and violence through violence. However, I feel that the true meaning of the chorus is a reference to the Government officials themselves and their tendency to protect their own. The “family” could also be referring to the political parties and their inability to come together to enact positive change.

The final stanza deals mostly with the suffering of the citizens of the United States who are overlooked by the militant minded government. This stanza criticizes the government for not paying attention

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