Interpretations:Monsters Of Mud

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Who are the "monsters of mud"? It says we give up and become monsters of mud ourselves--is this song about people with dark skin, referred to as "mud people" by some racist groups, and decrying interracial marriage, or is it about something else?

I thought this was a song about minorities taking over. The song is racist, but it's just showing how bigoted some views can be.

I seriously doubt the Johns would have written a racist song for a children's album, even if it was intended to be ironic. It could, however, be a somewhat tongue-in-cheek morality play: "Kids, be sure to wash up, or YOU'LL turn into monsters of mud!" Or it could just be a fun story about invading mud monsters. -VoVat

Well, it wasn't put on a children's album -- perhaps that's why.

If you came to the conclusion that this is a song about race, perhaps you are a racist. It's about monsters of mud... do you know what a monster is? You know... the fictional scary creatures. Picture a one of these made of mud. That's what the song is about, not race.

I can't stand how people bite eachothers' heads off whenever touchy issues of race enter the dialogue. It is true that in the past, some of the negative propaganda that was spread against some of the darker-skinned races was that they were dirty. In South Africa, it was acutally widely believed at one point that they would cause pools to turn muddy and gross. That's obviously not the case, and it's also obviously not of the opinion of anyone who posts here, but to suggest that this might perhaps be what the song is discussing (because it wouldn't be the first time that TMBG wrote from a perspective that they did not agree with) does not automatically make you a racist. Give people the benefit of the doubt, jeez... -Cronny

Here's a thought: It's interesting that the word "monster" is from the Latin monstrum omen, a warning, a showing of future peril. It doesn't have the connotation of fictional at all - in previous centuries a malformed animal or newborn human was a "monster" and considered to be an omen, something to be taken seriously. The monsters of mud's arrival foretold of a time when everyone would turn to mud. And in the song, they did..... Soooo it could be about race, but, you know, I really doubt it. I think it's just for fun. ~ Christina Miller, January 2006

Based on that, it seems now like a song about evolution...

Perhaps this song is a follow-up to Your Racist Friend, told from the persepctive of the Racist Friend?... -Cronny


I get the sense that it might be about the mind-set that "people who are different are horrible." It suggests that if you relax and not focus on the differences, people seem less foreign, one of "us."

It's a light-hearted song, actually, and sure to make you giggle:

Look out - there's one right there! It freaks me out, it's covered in crud.

All of our values have been challenged By the monsters of mud.

Here they slime; There they slouch! On the carpet; On my couch!

Mud monsters everywhere - You can't escape the slobbering flood!

We couldn't stop them so we all became The monsters of mud.

It reminds me of parents complaining about young people and their habits, from the tone of it, so if racial and ethnic differences is too heavy, just hear someone's Mom in horror about your muddy feet on her nice clean couch - that works, too. ~ Christina Miller, September 2005

I agree with the its people who are different thing in a way. In my mind its that the people who were once different were considered disgracefull and unbelievable monsters of mud. However once it caught on these "rebels" became mainstream (as happens with a lot of preliminarily rebelious things) and everyone eventually became a monster of mud. -Nightpotato

I don't think it's racist at all, but given the fact that the KKK does refer to african americans as 'mud people', and you don't have to strain that hard to see an alternate (though unlikely) racial interp, I'm sure thats exactly why it didn't make the album and hasn't been released. Can't think of any other reason for such a catchy song to be left alone for so long, unless they've integrated it in an elaborate rock opera for children thats slowly coming along... -- 17:45, 16 Feb 2006 (CST)

Yeah, I agree with that too. Maybe it was like the subtitle to Gigantic: "A Tale of Two Johns", which seemed perfectly reasonable at the time, but then suddenly they realized what it sounded like. But it was too late at that point. In Monsters of Mud's case, they caught their mistake before anything happened.

Is that why this song hasn't gotten a wider release- the Johns are afraid of people misinterpreting them? I understand why they made that decision, but what a shame- this is such a fantastic song, and, like everyone else has pointed out, I seriously doubt it has anything to do with race. I wonder- if they'd used a different word than "mud" would this controversy have been avoided? Monsters of clay? Monsters of trash? -Martorano


A song about how standards have slipped or perhaps the belief that standards have slipped. An idealised version of the past perhaps. Great kids song and how this didn't make "NO!" but John Lee Supertaster did is probably a question for Flans. (Mr Tuck)

Even at the most literal level, it seems clear that these aren't real monsters but muddy people (otherwise the comment that people used to be well-scrubbed wouldn't make much sense). The most reasonable literal interpretation I see is that everyone just started playing in the mud and not washing themselves up afterwards, leading to everything being covered in mud, leading to everyone being covered in mud.


Part of me always thought this could be poking fun at the "grunge look" or any other fashion wherin looking unwashed is the goal, yet it could also be kind of a commentary on exactly how far it's been since the Eisenhower era of bright, smiling faces and business suits. - TheNintenGenius

I definitely agree. This is a song about counter-culture and how it eventually became a part of mainstream culture.

Wild vs. Tame[edit]

I've always thought of this song is rather sociological. The monsters are primordial "wild" humans. They do not subscribe to "civilization" and its numerous unnecessary tasks. We don't actually need to bathe. We only need to do very few things to survive. In some sense, the "monsters of mud" remind "civilized" people that life could be simple again, as it was ages ago. In this sense, the lifestyle of the monsters is a reaction to the artifice of society. The monsters do not participate in civilization as we know it. This instinctual and somewhat basic lifestyle "freaks out" those with more complicated lives because it highlights that participation is voluntary. Do you really need deoderant? Do you really want to wear it? Does anybody want to wear deoderant? This is certainly a "challenge of values" and a cultural redefinition. On a similar angle, the ideas in the song relate to the ideas behind Jekyll and Hyde. The idea that animal instict is inside all of us and it is our duty (or society's duty) to supress our natural urges seems to play a part in the song's meaning. All of this sounds pretty serious, I know. Maybe too serious.

Just a funny song[edit]

Maybe this is just an example of John and John being ridiculous. I'm not saying this song is without meaning, and I think the "kid's playing in the mud" and the "grunge look" explanations are the most plausible. My read on this song is that it's just a funny and kind of creepy take on monster movies.

Mud = Dum[edit]

This song is about a bunch of mud monsters in a town. They make things so messy finally everybody gives up and joins them. It's petty-selfish planetary. -M. Fudd

What's the deal, yo?[edit]

So, if I think this song is about race, I'm a racist weirdo who's reading into the lyrics way too much because I refuse to see that it's exactly what it is and nothing more, and if I don't think this song is about race, I'm a touchy loser who's ignoring a subtext that should be clear to everyone based on obvious lyrical passages? My interpretation of this song is that it was manufactured with the express purpose of making it impossible to give your impressions of it without being ostracized, criticized or insulted to the fullest extent of annoyance. Acutally my opinion of the song is not that it's about race, which isn't to say that it's not about race. I'm just saying that whether or not it was intended by the Giants, I get the idea that it's about people disliking people different from them. If anybody disparages or argues with me, I'll face their punch off. -VolatileChemical

Look in the Mirror[edit]

What are you made of? --Nehushtan 06:13, 20 January 2008 (UTC)


This is an unlikely source of inspiration for Mr. Linnell, someone whose formative years were in the '90s, I can't help but think of the 1994 book "You Don't Scare Me!", an entry in the Goosebumps series, which prominently features a "monster of mud" on the cover. They're the major scary element in the book. See the cover and read about it here and here. --MisterMe 14:50, 27 August 2012 (EDT)

Mud Virus[edit]

I think it's a virus of mud, grey and brown, that covers people. That's how they became monsters of mud in the end. It's not racial --jimmyZenShinsThreeHundred11 (talk)