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 banned from circulation by the NAACP since 1949. Currently, it's in the public domain, and can be viewed here.
This short contains examples of...
- Blackface: Taken Up to Eleven here, as most of the characters look more like chimpanzees than actual African-Americans.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.