Frederick M. Brown/getty images
IS ANTONELLA GOING DOWN? Well, as far as the internet is concerned, she already has. Last week, pictures of American Idol contestant Antonella Barba boozing it up, going topless, rubbing herself against her girlfriends and sitting on the potty hit the internet, to notable silence from Idol producers. There was nothing there that we haven’t seen on Girls Gone Wild, and after her lacklustre performance Wednesday night, one assumes that the Idol powers-that-be assumed she wouldn’t be a problem much longer.
Antonella survived Thursday’s vote, however, and by Friday a whole bunch of new, far more explicit photos surfaced apparently shot from the perspective of some young lad – the word gentleman seems inappropriate here – as Antonella pleasured him orally. There’s a precedent for booting Idol contestants on what were once quaintly called “moral grounds” – Frenchie Davis was kicked off of season two of Idol for posing topless for a porn website, but I suppose this new scandal raises the question of professional impropriety versus private indiscretion.
Idol producer Nigel Lythgoe – an actual gentleman, it must be said – told Entertainment Weekly’s website that he hadn’t seen the photos, and that they were the first to draw his attention to them. (I could tell you where they are, but I like to think that I’m still able to aspire to being a gentleman, and you have Google, so do the work yourself.) His overwhelming reaction, Lythgoe admitted, was sadness.
“We have really good background checks on everybody, and we deal with that every season,'' he told EW.com. ''It's sad, isn't it, that your best friends are the ones that come forward with information that will go to Smoking Gun or put your photographs on the web?''
Whatever happens to Antonella Barba – and these shots might turn out to be of someone who just looks remarkably like her – the lesson learned is that whatever you’ve done, in the presence of even the best of friends, will be unearthed if you pass a certain quantifiable threshold of fame, even the temporary kind - especially if it’s salacious. If there’s nothing, someone will probably make something up, and if there’s anything at all, someone else will do their fiendish best to make up something worse.
Eventually, the fame threshold will lower and the proliferation of blogs and other informal web forums will meet, and you’ll wake up after getting a promotion at work to find that some photos of you, passed out, with obscenities written on your face in green hi-liter after a college party, will have made the rounds on inter-office e-mail. When that day comes – and only on that day – we’ll suddenly enter an era of moral rigidity that will make the Victorians look like presenters at the Adult Video Awards.