Intelligence is Sexy
April 1, 2008 7:42 PM   Subscribe

Hot For Words - a youtube classroom series on etymology taught by Marina, a... hot Russian philologist. Mildly NSFW.

Warning: Marina is as shameless in her self-promotion as she is in her choice of tops. Still, fun and interesting for etymology-freaks.
posted by Navelgazer (34 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Oh my. I have never been so turned on and bored in my entire life.

(Meaning: keep the etymology, lose the bimbo)
posted by not_on_display at 7:46 PM on April 1, 2008 [6 favorites]

This tints everything with the color of stupid.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:50 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

I really wanted it to work, but I too was bored after 2 videos. I prefer A Way With Words (and Grant is a Mefite and they have a podcast). On a positive note, she has millions of views, so someone out there is learning something from her show.
posted by shoepal at 8:10 PM on April 1, 2008 [2 favorites]

I watched her first couple of videos when they were new, and, well, they're just not very good. She's attractive, but clearly a bit of an attention whore, and the "philology" she does is easy. You can get more interesting stuff out of the OED.

...but the OED doesn't have tits, which I guess is the point.
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:11 PM on April 1, 2008

Wow. She is the Jim Cramer of philology.
posted by A dead Quaker at 8:33 PM on April 1, 2008

but the OED doesn't have tits

Are you sure there's no entry for those in the OED? Surely there's some synonym for breasts there.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:42 PM on April 1, 2008

What's the etymology of the term "the male gaze"?
posted by Tube at 8:43 PM on April 1, 2008 [2 favorites]

Even though I'm not going to bother watching more then a few, I still think this is pretty awesome.

And do the naysayers: What exactly were you expecting? Yah, most things she presents could like be found with a quick wikipedia search, but she's got personality (and yes she's hot), and it's generally entertaining. What's not to like?
posted by Alex404 at 8:51 PM on April 1, 2008

I like philology and I'm not against hot women teaching me things, but the few of these that I watched were really achingly simple, uncited explanations and a ton of gratuitous "oh this is me in a bikini" effects.

It doesn't really say "oh hey I'm a hot woman who is also really smart" (which would be sexay!) it says "I'm a really hot woman who went to college and can read, so I can just read you a definition out of a book and show you a picture of me in my underwear and tell you I was going to get my PhD in the US but decided to do a radio show for Maxim instead and you can pretend this has anything at all to do with language or education" She's got the same manager as Jenna Jameson.

Intelligence is sexy, but this?
posted by jessamyn at 9:13 PM on April 1, 2008 [13 favorites]

jessamyn: I'm trying to keep to a resolution of not babysitting my threads, but seeing as it's you...

I absolutely see what you're saying, but I view the project differently, I think. The woman is an honest-to-god philologist, who came to America from Russia to continue her study in that field (which has got to be rare enough on its own.) She's not stupid, and the "Maxim" element of her presentation doesn't logically make what she says dumber for any reason other than that people assume it should. The "grade level" of what she's teaching is aimed somewhere below the average MeFit wordfreak, but she's certainly not doing anything to dumb down her viewership.

I think most of what you're getting at (and I agree with you here) is that the series doesn't present "smart" as the driving force of "sexy," but rather the "smart" comes across as incidental and, if anything, unexpected - probably the opposite of the itended result. Honestly, I wish it worked out otherwise, as I think most of us here will agree that yes, smart does = sexy in many ways. I don't see that as quite the point here, though. Marina knows she's attractive, and she's got an area of academic expertise. Instead of just doing Maxim shoots, she's using Maxim to sponser her using her looks as a springboard to teach about language. It's silly, and there are issues of male gaze which can't be avoided, but I honestly think she's really cool for doing it.

That's my 2¢, and I don't want to intervene anymore, but I think that, with all of it's glaring flaws, it's still a fun and worthwhile project, and one which probably doesn't warrant the morality police, in the end.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:46 PM on April 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

Bah. I thought it was entomology.
posted by Artw at 10:08 PM on April 1, 2008

Sheesh. She didn't even have sexy librarian glasses. Why is everyone saying she's attractive?

Seriously, I found the content thin, the entertainment value (of the content) serviceable but limited, and the boobage insulting.
posted by dhartung at 10:12 PM on April 1, 2008

this is a w e s o m e

(and more educational than most of the crap on the discovery channel for chrissake)
posted by bilgepump at 10:25 PM on April 1, 2008

I know this isn't Fark, but I found the freakish, disproportionately thin arms unnerving. The whole thing feels empty and sad, like those photoshopped porn interiors with the people removed, only this time they removed the smartness.
posted by mecran01 at 10:26 PM on April 1, 2008

I like the idea but the execution...meh, didn't quite turn me on the way the philology often does. I think its a great idea to try and make language sexy to people though.

However, I just watched the Butterfly video and saw this comment posted:


I think this may be a losing proposition.
posted by afflatus at 11:08 PM on April 1, 2008

jessamyn: really achingly simple, uncited explanations and a ton of gratuitous

I'm right there with you — It's neither intelligent nor sexy. I imagine even digg users would have trouble swallowing this tripe.
posted by blasdelf at 12:29 AM on April 2, 2008

Well, Mr Grumpy-Pants here will go you one better: Not clever, not attractive. (Great post though.)
posted by Jofus at 1:03 AM on April 2, 2008

Marina has two degrees in philology ...

Why, didn't the first one work?
posted by outlier at 1:18 AM on April 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

Wow, she does Jim Jones in the second video... sexy girls talking about mass suicide gives me the horn.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:36 AM on April 2, 2008

Ew. This is extremely creepy to me.

Instead of just doing Maxim shoots, she's using Maxim to sponser her using her looks as a springboard to teach about language.

Do you really, truly believe that? I'd be more inclined to think that the goal is about the sexy and not the teaching. The teaching and the (pretty pathetic) attempt at intelligence* is being used to make the sexy sexier.

I suppose the reason I'm so strongly repelled by this is that real intelligence *is* sexy. This just makes a mockery of that. And it once again portrays a woman as being more worthy for her looks than for her brain. Seriously. That pisses me off.

*Not saying she's not intelligent. The information in the videos sure doesn't show it, though.
posted by Stewriffic at 4:45 AM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

I watched her first couple of videos when they were new, and, well, they're just not very good.


The woman is an honest-to-god philologist

And I am Marie of Romania.
posted by languagehat at 5:32 AM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

I thought Marc Bousquet at How The University Works was pretty insightful on this. A longish excerpt:
...there’s no disputing her metrics. It’s teaching as “vaudeville,” as the New York Times’ Virginia Heffernan points out, but her curriculum is customer-defined and market-oriented. She is a self-funding responsibility center. She gets great student evaluations. Her teaching methods are susceptible to straightforward assessment instruments. There isn’t a “quality” complaint to make about her.

Oh yeah, and it’s totally exploitative, which makes a nice fit with all the outsourcing and permatemping.

Marina’s teaching for love (of fame) is not entirely divorced from the phenomenon that Michelle Masse analyzes as the feminization of the humanities–the reduction of whole fields of faculty work to second-class status by way of the gender economy: part of the cheapening and degradation of the work is the tacit recognition of it as women’s work, as a service, compensated by something other than wages. In connection with her forthcoming SUNY collection Ten Million Served with Katie Hogan, she observes how the call to “service” is one of the most compelling vectors of exploitation in academic life.

Masse points out that “secretary” and “nurse” used to name well-remunerated, well-respected positions for men. Kinda like “professor of language.” Now that it’s women’s work, it’s best done as a kind of lightly-paid volunteerism–for love, or, as in Marina’s, case, something closely allied to it.
posted by gerryblog at 5:43 AM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

The woman is an honest-to-god philologist, who came to America from Russia to continue her study in that field

I guess this is my point, according to whom? I mean from a pure "internet phenomenon" perspective I find this totally interesting. But I watched the YouTube video about her and I hopped around on her site some and did some Googling and I find no evidence at all that she's anyone but a pretty woman with a saucy accent who (probably) graduated from college.

Someone is making those videos (likely not her) and making a mint since she's a revenue sharer at YouTube and one of the hottest things going there. And, as I said, she has an agent who usually represents porn stars. She dated Pauly Shore. I know there's part of this that is just me saying "look if you're really serious about being smart you can't be that serious about being hot and famous" but I really feel that if you're serious about being educated you do things like show your credentials (not THOSE) cite your sources and don't say things that make no sense like "two degrees in philology"
posted by jessamyn at 6:29 AM on April 2, 2008 [3 favorites]

I didn't know that she dated Pauly Shore.

I feel bad now... for all of us...
posted by Navelgazer at 6:34 AM on April 2, 2008

Here is an example of youtube being used by an intelligent woman who also happens to be rather attractive, not that it matters or anything:

Queen Rania.
posted by mecran01 at 7:52 AM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

I am really enjoying this FPP. Can you favorite something more than once?
posted by hellphish at 8:34 AM on April 2, 2008

if you're serious about being educated... you DO NOT date Pauly Shore.
posted by rusty at 8:57 AM on April 2, 2008

Intelligence is inherently sexy; no need for cleavage.

But cleavage can be sexy too.
posted by jabberjaw at 9:25 AM on April 2, 2008

while I've always been fond of her, why do Queen Rania's eyes look like they are about to pop out? and why can't she look into the camera?
posted by dawson at 9:39 AM on April 2, 2008

I prefer it when, in the smart/ sexy dynamic, the sexy part is more incidental. Like Cathy Rogers (the creator of Junkyard Wars/ Scrapyard Challenge), I'd hear her speak on a topic and while I was beginning to understand what she was talking about, I'd notice; 'wow, she's really pretty.'

I always found that kind of cool.
posted by quin at 10:13 AM on April 2, 2008

I had an incredibly hot Ukrainian linguistics prof. This woman is not an incredibly hot linguistics prof. This is Maxim reads the dictionary.
posted by klangklangston at 10:55 AM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you're looking for other women+etymology combos, perhaps more appealing to the average MeFite, there's always Chrysti the Wordsmith. Here in Montana!
posted by ikahime at 11:27 AM on April 2, 2008 [1 favorite]

Even less entertaining than Bikini Calculus.
posted by Wet Spot at 3:28 PM on April 2, 2008

Marina has over 41 million video views on YouTube, so she's doing something right. She does have 2 degrees in philology, I think one in Russian and 1 in English and Navelgazer... she never dated Pauly Shore.. she happened to be outside of a restaurant at the same time as he was... and she didn't even know who he was until people started accusing her of dating him.

I picked up all this info from her website and her YouTube channel. I think what she's doing is fantastic.. reaching probably more people than any other current day philologist.. and I actually find her lessons not only informative but entertaining. Those of you who cannot see beyond her looks are more superficial than what you are accusing her of being.

I think it's great to see a woman do more with her looks than shake her ass... she's actually trying to teach people a few things.. and those of you who pretend to be intellectuals here should welcome such a thing. I've certainly had my share of the dumb Paris Hiltons of the world... it's nice to see someone do something different for a change.
posted by chazzzzy at 1:49 AM on April 6, 2008 [1 favorite]

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