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 few comments:
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.
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?