I’m not about to hate on Marina, the pulchritudinous host of YouTube’s mega-popular HotforWords. It’s too easy to find fault with her they-come-for-the-cleavage-but-stay-for-the-learning schtick. Let’s just say if I wanted to know a word’s origin and definition, I would look it up in the dictionary, not check out Marina’s videos. But I’m also not a heterosexual male with a subscription to Maxim.
With over 40 million views on YouTube, I think it’s safe to say that Marina is probably the most popular philologist on the Internet. Not sure what a philologist is? Just watch Marina’s very first video in which she explains how the roots “logos” and “philos” magically combine to form the love of words, or as the buxom Moscow native charmingly says, “the love for the words.” Oh, Russians and articles! Can they ever resist using too many? Or not enough?
As lore has it, Marina (yes, she’s a one-namer) came to the U.S. with not one, but two philology degrees to prepare for her Ph.D., and wound up staying this side of Siberia on account of the warmer weather. A former English and World Literature high school instructor (can anyone say Hot for Teacher?), the 27-year-old decided to hang up her head-of-the-class slacks and oxfords in favor of slutty schoolgirl wares and post educational videos about etymology. (So what do we call that? Etymotica? How’s that for a neologism?!)
In the past 8 months – after 43 million views and explaining sirens, geek, irregardless, and a 130 or so other words – Marina’s won Wired Magazine’s 2007 “Sexiest Geek” contest, appeared on Bill O’Reilly and hosted a regular, bi-weekly segment on Maxim Sirius Satellite Radio. Radio? Doesn’t that sort of…I don’t know…defeat the purpose?
###HotforWords has pushed up its production value a few notches since its early installments, with the inclusion of graphics, editing, games, jingles and cheesy sound effects, but it may have been better in the beginning. With the unpolished early installments, one can’t help but imagine the impossibly beautiful Marina as a lonely, scantily-clad Russian import in a foreign land, closed off from the world in a little room with nothing but her video camera and love of words, desperate to share them with someone.
And yet, even though Marina does her darndest to share her linguistic prowess with the world, something tells me that we won’t be seeing a spike in SAT scores anytime soon. No matter what the topic of a particular episode, the overwhelming tenor of most of her viewers’ responses is something along the lines of, “Dam u sexy lol” or “nice boobs they real.” Perhaps Marina should require proper grammar and spelling for comments on HotforWords. Just an idea.
One of my favorite recent videos is a response to a fan (screen name KinGMuTeL8r) who asks Marina to tell him the origin of “the word” 420. Thankfully, Marina wastes no time pointing out that 420 is actually a number. Maybe she’s making a difference after all. Finally, an icon with the looks of Jenna Jameson and the smarts of William Jones.