Jude Law is People magazine’s most recent recipient of “The Sexiest Man Alive” status. I’ve had my eye on Law since 1997’s underrated film “Gattaca.” After sitting through his hour and 43-minute film “Alfie” in 2004, I came to the realization that Jude Law is one of the rare faces that could have held my attention through such a superficial film.

The intent of such superficiality is questionable, as well. But what makes Jude Law so appealing? Sure, he’s fit, blonde, has intoxicating blue eyes and possesses that certain metrosexual appeal, but he also has something that no American man can claim – an authentic British accent. Would his words sound so smooth if they came out of another person’s mouth? Maybe so, but it’s doubtful.

When one thinks of some of the biggest leading men today – the ones that have consistent box office draw – Law, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth would certainly be on that list.

While all of their acting abilities are questionable, they can all rely on one thing most heterosexual females can’t resist – a British accent. How can this phenomenon be explained?

Well, I was recently at a party where several English university students were in attendance. They were good-looking, but girls seemed to be throwing themselves at the “lads” to the point where I was almost ashamed to be an American female. After being exposed to multiple films involving the exoticization and exploitation of Asians and African Americans, I raise the question – are we exploiting these men?

A more complicated question might be – are these men exploiting themselves? Perfect examples of “self exploitation” are any instance of a model choosing to be in a magazine or a porn star appearing in a film. But a more academic example is the blaxploitation era of film. By name, this genre exploits.

But what if this exploitation is for a cause? And, if one chooses to appear in such a film, does the film become any less exploitative?

According to Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, to exploit is to “make use of meanly or unjustly for one’s own advantage.” But what if it is for one’s own advantage? Is it different if exploitation is “self-inflicted?” Is there potential agency in exploiting one’s self?

After one considers the possible power in exploiting one’s self, one may wonder whether there are degrees of exploitation. Is one really better than another? Is exoticizing one’s accent more acceptable than one’s body?

A common response may be “It’s not the same.” Why not? What then is exploitation? Well, I know it when I hear it.

Reyhani can be reached at mreyhani@campustimes.org.

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