“Empty Walls” is a song by musician Serj Tankian (System of a Down). The song was released as the first official single and first track off of Tankian’s debut solo album Elect the Dead. The song has been described as a “traditionally pummeling rocker.”
“Empty Walls” was released on September 10, 2007 as a digital download and September 25 as a CD single. It can also be found on a 2 track Reprise promo issue dated September 4, 2007 as well as in edited form on promotional copies that have been sent out to radio stations.
The music video for the single was released onto Serj Tankian’s official YouTube link on October 26, 2009. The video, which shows activity in a children’s playroom that echoes the events of the September 11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent war in Iraq, contains an amended version of the last verse where it repeats “empty walls” instead of “fucking walls” and “god damn walls”.
Serj released one of the videos on September 11, 2007, matching the video’s War on Terrorism theme. The music video was directed by Tony Petrossian and was uploaded to YouTube on September 12, 2007. The video shows young children playing in a daycare center with their play imitating the War on Terrorism.
The video opens with a felt Homeland Security Advisory System scale (accompanied by a seal reading “U.S. Department of Playground Sekcureity”), followed by a young girl building two towers of blocks. A boy launches a toy airplane into the towers, knocking them down and upsetting the girl, and she is shown to want revenge.
Various scenes in the video refer to the War in Iraq: the children preparing for play war, a teddy bear being pulled down (referring to the symbolic pulling down of Saddam Hussein’s statue), a presidential figure with a sign declaring “Mission Accomplished”, an imitation of the capture of Saddam Hussein, a child in a cage reminiscent of one of the Kenneth Bigley hostage videos, the aforementioned collapse of the block towers, a child dressed and positioned in imitation of a published picture of Satar Jabar from the Abu Ghraib prison, and several children pulling another from a toy house to play execute him with a can of silly string (in reference to the Hamdania incident). A boy inside a toy car puts on goggles and is driven into a plastic ball pit wall to cause a burst of confetti, symbolic of the many suicide bombings at US Army checkpoints. The children performing acts similar to those of the US military are clearly distinguished by wearing helmets reminiscent of soldiers’ helmets.
Meanwhile Serj, dressed in a top hat and suit, sings as they play. The video concludes as the children all look out the daycare window and solemnly watch a Marine Corps detail load a flag-draped casket into a hearse. Meanwhile, the dead Marine’s grief-stricken parents are looking in horror and disbelief at the day care, after seeing what the children have done.