March 10, 2007

Let's take a closer look at Antonella's photographs.

Lisa de Moraes covers the Antonella Barba story:
Barba may be the best-known "Idol" contestant who didn't make it to the finals, thanks to a bunch of photos of varying degrees of raciness that recently hit the Internet: Antonella on the toilet, Antonella flipping off the person with the camera while smiling her beautiful smile, Antonella with a bunch of gal pals and holding a box of suggestive pasta (don't ask), Antonella dripping wet in a T-shirt and undies in the World War II Memorial on the Mall, Antonella cupping another woman's breasts, Antonella sunbathing topless -- which, sadly, passes for racy in this great country of ours.

A second batch of photos popped up soon thereafter, showing someone who looked like Antonella in a sex act with a guy. But those photos have mostly been dismissed by many, including Coluccio, who said the chick in those pics is wearing acrylic nails, something Antonella would never do. The controversy raged, on "Idol" chat sites and on ABC's morning show "The View," among other places, about whether she is fit to be on the show that is the most popular in the country -- with an average audience of about 30 million viewers, including millions of children, as well as their parents and grandparents -- and whether "Idol" should sack her given that it previously kicked out D.C. area contestant Frenchie Davis over pictures she did for an Internet porn site.
A few comments:

1. I guess the search is on for photos that are obviously Antonella, showing her wearing acrylic nails.

2. I loved Frenchie Davis fan way back in the second season of "American Idol." We were huge suckers, chez Althouse, for her singing "Band of Gold" with Kimberly Locke. When Frenchie got booted, we vowed we'd never watch "American Idol" again. (What would I have done with those hundreds of hours if I'd kept my vow?)

3. Some people like to say that Frenchie was treated worse than Antonella because Frenchie is fat and black and Antonella is thin and white. I doubt it. There's a distinction between what the two women did. Frenchie posed as a model for a sex website. Antonella seems to be posing for fun. But also they had a chance to learn from the Frenchie incident that people sympathize with a young woman who's posed for sexy pictures. There will be more and more of these things with all the digital photography and photo sharing sites. We're going to have to learn to take it in stride. It would be ridiculous to make pariahs out all the young women who let someone take their picture.

4. I took the trouble to look up the (undisputed) photos of Antonella that everyone has been looking at, and really, I don't see what the big deal is (other than that she's really pretty). These are the kind of cute, fun-loving pictures friends take of each other nowadays. You shouldn't casually put them up on the internet, but obviously some people do. Others put them up quite intentionally. Some of what looks casual may be quite intentional. Was Antonella helped or hurt by this? Someone thinking this through in advance might calculate that it's a good way to self-promote. The look of a lack of intent to go public is part of why people are fascinated. And you've got that deniability too.

5. Why is it "sad" that a picture of a topless woman is considered racy in America? Because she was sunbathing? I realize that you have to act nonchalant in a real life naked sunbathing situation, but it's a photograph. The whole idea of a photograph is to gawk at an image. Or is it just "sad" that Americans -- unlike those sophisticated Europeans -- think sunbathing naked is sexy? Should we aspire to lose the feeling that things are sexy? Why is it considered better to drain the feeling out of life? Since when is numbness an accomplishment?

20 comments:

rightwingprof said...

"Why is it "sad" that a picture of a topless woman is considered racy in America?"

That's exactly what I wondered.

MrsWhatsit said...

Would it have made a difference if Antonella could sing? She was so far behind the other women in that department that I can't help suspecting that the pictures were an intentional campaign to make up for her lack of vocal power.

If so, it did work. She stayed on the show much longer than that voice deserved. Even Simon -- who is not exactly Mr. Empathy -- told her on TV that he sympathized with her for the media pummeling she'd taken. And everybody knows her name!

Ron said...

It frequently saddens me that it seems as though Americans are opposed to both thinking and emotional/passionate expression. What's replaced them both is sort of a verbal, neurotic yelling, not exactly a fair trade...

dave™© said...

"American Idol": pretty much your intellectual speed...

Dave F said...

Being one who doesn't follow pop culture or watch TV I really have no clue what you're talking about. But how hot is it that a woman feels another woman up?

Yeah, yeah, I know I'm going to shock the conservatives on this board, and I know I'm slinking off to Soddom and Gomorrah and yeah I know Bork just had a heart attack, but well, holy shit that's hot! Like Jenna Jameson.

Bissage said...

I’m very interested in this Antonella Barba person.

You see, I’m directing a musical version of “The Enterprise Incident” for our local theater group and we need someone to play the too-hot-for-words Romulan Commander who gets romanced by Spock. Our little group is on a tight budget and we’ll save money on her makeup since she’s halfway to Romulan, already. (Yeah, baby!!!)

Also, we can’t afford to pay her very much. But the perks are decent since she’ll get to do a love scene with me playing Spock.

And her showcase song is a guaranteed chart topper (I wrote it myself); the first verse:

Baby, baby, show me your de-cloaking device.
I’ll cloak it for you all night long.
You know, I could go for a Vulcan like you.
Man, oh, man I’ll bet you’re really hoooong.


Okay, Antonella, if you’re reading this, I admit, this rinky dink musical might not be exactly what you’re looking for. Still, we must remember the first rule of the stage: There are no small parts only small players.

Call me. Please?

Joe Baby said...

For Catholics, she's but the latest example of what many Catholic universities have become (she goes/has gone to CUA in DC).

And for those who are reverent at our nation's monuments, posing in a wet t-shirt at the WW2 memorial is rather gauche.

Note: I believe she took those pics and emailed them to a certain someone, and did not post them herself.

I don't really understand the thought that she's withstood anything. Granted, a lot of people are talking about her semi-nude pics, but she doesn't seem embarrassed about them, and it's likely the pics help keep her around long after her voice could carry her.

We'll see more of her. Entertainment Tonight hostess, or something similar.

Peter Palladas said...

unlike those sophisticated Europeans

That may be kind or ironic - I'm really struggling to discover Irony America - though either way it's hopelessly untrue mostly.

10% sophistication in some quarters; but 90% brazen 'getting one's tits out for the lads' in others.

Omaha1 said...

"suggestive pasta" Google-whack!
Don't worry girl, I've got your back
Wet t-shirt, toilet, naughty pix
Whatev, Idol execs are dicks
How could they oust you, lovely child
Based on the charge of acting wild?
Or question your sunbathing nudes
While marketing to lusty dudes?
Oh Antonella, you'll be missed
by all those guys you've never kissed
Hear our "Barba-ric" mournful wails
We love your non-acrylic nails

Ann Althouse said...

LOL, Omaha1. Lonely Donut Man needs to reappear pronto!

SteveR said...

Frenchie was on The Factor and your distinction between posing for money and what Antonella did, would appear to explain the difference. She seems to have moved on. Anyway, Barba is not so good a singer, mayb she should go to Yale Law. She already has a good Flicka portfolio.

John Burgess said...

RE your Point 5: Could I suggest that context is what's at issue here?

I've lived in a lot of countries that have varying attitudes toward not only clothing, but which body parts are considered erotic. Places where women work in the field topless tend to treat such toplessness as mundane, not worth getting excited about.

Those breasts, in a workplace context, are not erotic; in a sexual context, they are.

Similarly, breasts exposed to sunlight on a beach may or may not be erotic. Part depends on the intention of the sunbather, part on the intention of the viewer.

A sunbather may or may not have innocent intention. The desire for as-close-to-naked-as-the-law-allows can be a matter of personal comfort. It can be the desire for no tan lines. It can, of course, be a come-on, a boast, a temptation.

But showing nonchalance toward naked breasts on a beach does not mean that breasts are now de-eroticized, only that they are de-eroticized in a particular context.

Not being female I have to enter into a state of supposition here, but I suspect that a woman is not generally aroused by the incidental contact with her breast in a non-erotic situation, e.g., brushing against a door or even a male in a bus or subway. That does not mean that the woman--or the breast--has lost her/its erogenous capacity. Context is the deciding factor.

Ann Althouse said...

Flicka? Have we moved on to "Survivor"?

Peter Palladas said...

It is not the act of a gentleman to photograph a lady whilst she is fellating him. Neither is it the act of a woman with half a brain to let him.

Jennifer said...

The ahem...acrylic nail pics have been examined by this blog, and I'm pretty convinced it's not her.

XWL said...

Shouldn't the biggest stink have been raised regarding the photos taken on (not at, ON) the WWII Memorial in DC (semi-nude pictures at the link)?

On the one hand, that's pretty disrespectful, on the other hand, if she had done that in front of a bunch of surviving WWII Vets, I think they would have enjoyed the show.

All the others photos, whatever, but taking suggestive photos in the fountain of a War Memorial, that's messed up.

War Memorials that themselves are suggestive, I'm cool with that.

Steven said...

The question, of course, is the difference between racy and sexy.

M-W.com gives "risque" as a synonym for racy, with risque defined as "verging on impropriety or indecency". Using that definition, it is quite possible for something to be sexy (" sexually suggestive or stimulating") without being racy; for example, any number of cocktail dresses.

In which case, the objection to toplessness being racy could well be that the raciness is a deterrent to sexiness. If women didn't worry about being (on the verge of) improper or indecent by going topless, there would be more sexy bared breasts around.

Uncle Jimbo said...

The pics were regular fluff.

T&A in the WWII Memorial is too much however. She is tacky and not much of a singer. A Buh Bye.

Cordially,

Uncle J

LoafingOaf said...

MrsWhatsit said...
Would it have made a difference if Antonella could sing? She was so far behind the other women in that department that I can't help suspecting that the pictures were an intentional campaign to make up for her lack of vocal power.

If so, it did work. She stayed on the show much longer than that voice deserved.


As someone who voted for Antonella two weeks in a row, I'd like to point out that there are still female Idol contestants left who are as bad or worse singers than she was. Haley is still in there, for example!

The judges singaled that this isn't really just a singing contest by cutting some of the better singers at the Hollywood stage.

The main reason Antonella is gone is because she was confused about what types of songs to sing. She could've lasted at least a couple weeks longer.

But, yeah, I voted for her because she's hot. Considering how lame the music is on the show, it's as good a reason as any. But I voted on talent too, and called Doolittle's line a couple times. I knew the jig was up for poor Antonella by comparing the busy signals. :(

jonnynomeat said...

I think the revealing part is that her behavior is hardly shocking for girls of a certain generation. If this were 1980, or even 1990, America would have been shocked by the wild escapades of a crazed party girl -- she and her friends would have been fairly unique. But the 00's have brought us to the point where this kind of hyper-sexualized public behavior is normal for young women. America reacts with a yawn.

Next season, it'll be rare to have an Idol contestant who doesn't have these kind of pics out there.