The racy pictures [NSFW] of American Idol contestant Antonella Barba, which have been circulating the Internet en masse the past couple of weeks, have ignited quite a firestorm. Remember Frenchie Davis? She was the season two front-runner who was booted from the show when sexy pictures of her were found on an adult website. Davis, who is overweight and black and incredibly talented, claimed she told the producers about the pictures when she first auditioned for the show, but they kicked her off anyway. Meanwhile, Antonella, who is thin and white and not talented — at least not vocally (although “orally” is a different discussion) — remains on the show despite the pictures. The situation is racist, claim some fans, and “weightist,” according to Rosie O’Donnell.
“I think it’s fantastic if Idol has evolved and I think it’s fantastic she won’t have to go through what I went through four years ago,” Davis told the New York Post. “But if the rules have changed, I believe there should be something to make up for the fact that I was humiliated needlessly.”
Now, in fairness, there is a clear difference between these sets of photos. Antonella’s photos were taken privately, by her boyfriend, and intended for their eyes only. The fact that they leaked is (probably) not her fault. Davis, on the other hand, worked as a paid model, accepting money to pose for photos that she knew would end up on the Internet. Do I, personally, find either of these actions morally reprehensible and/or grounds for dismissal from a reality show? No. But some of Antonella’s competitors reportedly feel different — rumor has it that the more religious faction of the Idol contestant set is disturbed and disgusted by Barba’s photos, and hopes she is sent home soon.
Meanwhile, a group called Friends of Frenchie Davis, led by civil-rights activist Najee Ali, is protesting today at the Kodak Theater, where the show films, hoping to raise public awareness of this “double-standard.” Says Davis: “It’s unbelievable that such movement is being made for me without me having to say a word.” The end goal of this protest — or so says the rumor mill — is to encourage the Idol producers to give Frenchie, who currently appears in Rent on Broadway, another shot on Idol this season. This should be fun. I can’t wait for the pictures.