Can't we just focus on Antonella Barba's singing?

Barba_lYou wouldn’t know it from the way I referred to her as "Jersey girl on a toilet" in episode 1 of EW’s new Idolatry webcast, but I actually feel bad for American Idol contestant Antonella Barba, the chick whose "friend" has been leaking scantily clad photos of her all over the Internet, including one where she’s sitting atop the proverbial throne. Even more disconcerting were the unfortunate pictures released late last week of a young woman who looked a lot like Antonella performing an oral sex act on a zealously "manscaped" man. The latter set of snapshots have set off the kind of queasy discourse that makes me want to channel Martha Stewart during her infamous CBS morning-show interview — you know, the one where the domestic diva, responding to host Jane Clayson’s questions about her ImClone stock-trading scandal, grimly hacked away at a head of cabbage and declared, "I want to focus on my salad."

In much the same way, all I want to do is focus on what Antonella — and her competitors — do on the Idol stage, and not on whatever personal, non-illegal indiscretions they may or may not have committed as teenagers. But on the other hand, it’s unrealistic to think contestants’ personalities, and to some degree, their pasts, won’t affect viewers’ voting patterns. I mean, how can you ignore salacious news reports like the one in The Newark Star-Ledger that quoted Antonella’s close friend Amanda Coluccio (who was eliminated from Idol during this season’s Hollywood week), arguing the oral-sex shots were of an Antonella lookalike? "I’ve studied them. It’s not her nose. She’s never had [acrylic nail] tips [like the woman in the photo] in her life. She’s the least slutty person I know," Coluccio declared. Even wackier, an Associated Press story from this morning offers a rather alarming sociological snapshot of Antonella’s hometown of Point Pleasant, N.J. "At least half the people in this town have pictures of their friends on the toilet," says one local teen. "I’ve personally seen at least 20. It’s only because she’s on TV that they’re online." (Full disclosure: I have two friends from Point Pleasant — I even attended a wedding there this summer — and have yet to see any of ‘em on the loo.)

addCredit(“Antonella Barba: Michael Becker”)

Anyway, all this madness has me wondering about a few things. We allknow after Antonella’s week 1 performance of "I Don’t Wanna Miss aThing" that she’d be likely going home in the next few weeks evenwithout a photo scandal, but if this had happened to one of the femalefrontrunners (like LaKisha or Melinda), would it have affected herpopularity? Would America be as outraged if the photos had been of amale contestant on the receiving end of said sex act? (I’m guessingno.) Given that season 2’s fabulous Frenchie Davis was booted forposing in lingerie for a racy Internet site, where should Idol draw theline in booting contestants? And finally, does your American Idol needto have a squeaky clean past? Mine sure doesn’t, but I’ll be curious toread the inevitable debate in the comments section below.


Comments (72 total) Add your comment
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  • Juan

    I does not matter one bit to me. Does it matter if the pics are taken after Idol or after(McPhee got sexier after AI). I think this has done nothing but guarantee that NJ will be around til the top 6. I will one up la Colucc and say it’s not the same girl because of cup size.

  • Rose

    I could care less about a contestant’s lifestyle. All I care about is whether or not they can sing! The Frenchie fiasco will always remain a black mark on AI, especially since she was so talented. I also noticed that teen pregnancies didn’t shoot up after Fantasia won a few years ago. The only problem with Antonella is that she’s the least talented gal in the crop. Trust me, these pix will only make her more popular, possibly to the point where she might get an undeserved spot in the top 12 (oh, God, I hope not!!! but I’m placing my finger on the mute button …just in case!)

  • Nose

    That’s just it..Idol has set precedent for kicking people like this off before, like Frenchie Davis. If they don’t kick Antonella off too, all the contestants that have been booted off the show can come a-suin’. Personally, I don’t think she should have made it past her initial audition, but I guess pretty trumps talent in this case.

  • Me Myself I

    The only way she should get kicked off is if the oral sex shots are of her. The other pictures are no worse that Becky O’Donahue’s Maxim spread. It’s all much ado about nothing to me.

  • Rose

    Just one more comment to Michael – you ask if America would be as outraged if the pictures were of a male contestant. Ummm, is America actually “outraged” over this, as you suggest? Or have we exhausted all our outrage the past few weeks on Britney’s shaved head and Anna Nicole’s continuing saga of still being dead? Or maybe the quagmire in Iraq – oh, ha, ha, that one was just a joke – of course!

  • mscisluv

    People keep saying that Antonella is going to be gone in the next few weeks, but Slezak, you of all people must have noticed that she’s the female pick of the folks at Vote For the Worst – meaning she’s not going anywhere.

  • FJM

    Knowing that would-be contestants have been kicked off for less in the past, I don’t think anyone with pix on a porn site would even bother to try out at this point. While the tacky toilet pix may be legit, the porn pix surely aren’t.

  • Winona

    I guess I’m in the minority of people who are more offended by the cheesecake photos taken while she was frolicking in the World War II Memorial fountain than of those of her on the toilet.
    Either way, Frenchie – who, by the way, was far more talented – was kicked off for something similar, so I can’t wait until I don’t have to hear Antonella sing on TV ever ever again.

  • Ed

    I’m sorry, but I’ve already judged this girl. I was hoping she would get knocked out last week but didn’t. I think she’s already on the hit list and it will only speed the process.
    I don’t like her, she looks like a spoiled brat.
    “…why don’t you just admit it, you don’t like him.”
    “Alright, I don’t like him!”
    “Then don’t you go to Paris with him!”

  • shawn

    Frenchie’s photos were on a child pron site. Thant is the difference people!

  • aramis

    American Idol = Stupid. Why do I feel like the only person with enough sense to ignore this glorified Karaoke contest?

  • Tots

    It’s a pity that this has to happen. We all semm to agree that based on her singing talent(?), Antonella would be out of the competition in by next week. Regardless of this issue coming up, she’ll still go home this week but now she’s saved some face cos she can claim that her idol ambitions came a-crashing because she was sabotaged(?) but we all know the score. Like simon put it best “…. you’re lucky, you are a pretty girl”.
    Enough said!

  • daisyj

    I’m not saying they were right to kick off Frenchie, but there is a difference between posing for money and taking nudie pictures because you’re young, drunk and stupid (and don’t have enough sense to track them down after you sober up).
    And, as far as the question of whether or not that one particular picture would be worse for a guy– maybe not in terms of outrage, but definitely in terms of votes lost from the powerful mom-, grandma- and preteen-girl-blocs.

  • daisyj

    I’m not saying they were right to kick off Frenchie, but there is a difference between posing for money and taking nudie pictures because you’re young, drunk and stupid (and don’t have enough sense to track them down after you sober up).
    And, as far as the question of whether or not that one particular picture would be worse for a guy– maybe not in terms of outrage, but definitely in terms of votes lost from the powerful mom-, grandma- and preteen-girl-blocs.

  • wintersux

    Does my American Idol have to have a squeaky clean past? No, not squeaky clean…but I would think we could find some sort of compromise between “never-been-kissed” and “fellating men for money and posting the snaps on the internet”.

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