The short is set in Lazytownnote , a community inhabited by extremely stereotypical lazy African-Americans. At least, until a light-skinned woman from Harlem arrives and shows them how to wash via the titular song.
The short is notable for being controversial even in The '40s for its African-American stereotypes, being yanked from circulation since 1949, following protests from the NAACP. It was the first cartoon to be pulled from circulation due to Values Dissonance, preceding the Censored Eleven by 19 years. Currently, it's in the public domain, and can be viewed here.
This short contains examples of...
- Blackface-Style Caricature: Taken Up to Eleven here, as most of the characters look more like chimpanzees than actual African-Americans. Averted with the attractive black woman, who is portrayed without Blackface.
- But Not Too Black: The one attractive black woman in the short has much lighter skin than the others.
- Censor Shadow: The strutting, light-skinned, washerwomen triplets carrying washboards all wear transparent, light blue skirts. However, they're seen again from the waist down a second time and their skirts are light red in another scene.
- Dancing Pants: At one point, a character plays a clarinet next to a washtub, which causes two pairs of long underwear to come out and dance.
- Delayed Reaction: One character is bitten on the nose by a mosquito while sleeping, and lets out a dull Ouch! a few seconds later. Something similar happens shortly afterward with a sleeping dog after a cat walks over it.
- Eat the Camera: Occurs with the washer woman close to the end.
- Iris Out: The short ends with the iris closing in on the mammy washerwoman's behind.
- Lazy Bum: All of the Lazytown inhabitants, even the animals, are depicted as this until the washer woman arrives.
- Mighty Whitey: A non-white example. The light-skinned woman is the one who shows the dark-skinned Lazytown residents how to wash clothes.
- Ms. Fanservice: The light-skinned woman is drawn in a very attractive way. She's also this In-Universe, as the Lazytown residents look excited enough upon seeing her to become less lazy.
- The light-skinned, washerwomen triplets are just as attractive and wear see-through skirts.
- Musical Chores: The titular song is set to the characters washing and scrubbing clothes.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: The washer woman greatly resembles Lena Horne in appearance. A lot of the Lazytown residents also talk similar to Stepin Fetchit.
- Non-Standard Character Design: The washer woman is the only human character to not be drawn as a Blackface stereotype.
- Actually, the high-yella, washerwomen triplets and a dark-skinned, male sax player fit this as well.
- Panty Shot: The girl triplets who carry a large tub wear matching white panties under their short dresses.
- The mammy washerwoman bends over, lifts her skirt, and flashes white bloomers from behind with the words, "The End", written on them in bold to the camera to close out the short.
- Recycled Animation: The scene with the washerwomen triplets strutting about would be used again in "The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B" short, released later the same year as this. They may well be the same triplets, but this time they wear some kind of armed forces uniforms that are designed the same, but the parts of their ensembles have colors in positions that are different from what each sister is wearing individually, but they all still share the same colors of red, white, and blue.
- Reused Character Design: At one point, a chicken who bears a resemblance to Woody Woodpecker's early design briefly appears dancing with another chicken.
- Uncle Tomfoolery: Most of the characters are the kind of Stepin Fetchit-esque stereotypes common in African-American depictions at the time.
- Vocal Dissonance: One of the characters is a little girl with a deep raspy male voice courtesy of Mel Blanc.