Japanese Houseboy - WTF?
September 22, 2012 8:45 AM Subscribe
What is the story behind the pop-cultural trope of the "Japanese Houseboy?"
posted by Miko to society & culture (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
So this is something you encounter from time to time in midcentury American books, movies, and TV - a house servant who is (apparently, maybe not actually) Japanese. It's often played for a laugh in a racist way. A primary example is the character of Ito in Auntie Mame. But my question is: what reality, if any, does this reflect? Were there large numbers of Japanese people entering household service in the US in the 20s, 30s, 40s? It just doesn't jibe with my understanding of world history, and I'd like to identify any non-fictional resources that indicate this was a real phenomenon, and if possible, describe the historical conditions that gave rise to it.