Colleen Ballinger, YouTube’s latest persona non grata, is addressing “embarrassing mistakes” after months of silence.
Ballinger, 36, returned to the video-sharing platform Sunday for the first time since her indignant ukulele performance, in which she apologized to members of the online community (but also sort of scolded them) in the wake of varied accusations, including that she’d “groomed” fans for labor.
“Obviously, the last video that I posted on here is really embarrassing. … I was being accused of some pretty awful things, and I just was mad,” Ballinger said in a new video in which she apologized for some of the behavior that landed her in hot water, as well as sharing that she intends to vlog again.
“I should have handled that situation with maturity and empathy, but instead I just let my ego take over, and I’m really disappointed in myself.
“Over the last 15 years of my career, there have been moments where I was immature and inappropriate with some of my comedy. And there were times when I did not put enough thought into some of my fan interactions,” she said. “And because of that behavior, people got hurt. And I am so sorry. I never wanted to hurt anybody, but it’s clear that I did, and I feel so terrible about that.”
Ballinger admitted she’s “not a perfect person,” and said that there were many things she wished she could go back and change or redo. She said, however, that she doesn’t “have control over any of that” and doesn’t have control “over the things people say” about her. “I only have control over my actions moving forward.”
Earlier this year, the internet personality known for her popular Miranda Sings character was hit with accusations from fellow YouTubers and superfans who alleged she was “grooming” them for labor and had made sexual jokes with minors in a group chat. As the allegations swirled, the “Haters Back Off!” actor stopped posting on her social media pages for nearly a month.
Then in June, she grabbed a ukulele and broke her silence with a song posted to her YouTube channel that included a chorus about a “toxic gossip train” and lyrics that said, “Everyone just believes that you are the type of person who manipulates and abuses children — I just wanted to say that the only thing I’ve ever groomed is my two Persian cats” and “I’m not a groomer, I’m just a loser who didn’t understand I shouldn’t respond to fans. And I’m not a predator, even though a lot of you think so, because five years ago I made a fart joke.”
The latter line referred to a resurfaced clip from one of Ballinger’s live shows where she had a fan lie on her back and spread her legs as a fart noise sounded through speakers. TMZ reported that the viral clip led to the loss of several sponsorship deals on her “Relax!” podcast.
“I never had any bad intentions, but I do feel like s—,” Ballinger sang toward the end of her 10-minute-long song, staring intensely at the camera with a defeated look before looking down and continuing to play her “toxic gossip train” chorus, which she repeated throughout the song.
Many of the allegations against Ballinger were first leveled in April 2020 by Adam McIntyre, a former superfan of Ballinger and now a successful YouTube personality himself. In a video, McIntyre alleged that Ballinger used him for unpaid social media work before severing ties with him over a controversial tweet he sent on the Miranda Sings account and ghosting him. Ballinger also drew fire for sending underwear to McIntyre as a joke.
Ballinger issued a 13-minute apology video a month later, explaining that it was normal for her to hire fans for her social media work, as well as to do work when she went on tour, but that she often gave them a test run before employment. Such was the case with McIntyre, she said, taking the blame for the controversial tweet.
“I am not a monster, I am not a groomer,” Ballinger said in her 2020 video, adding that she had been in touch with McIntyre’s mother after the tweet issue. “I care about him so much as I do with all my fans that I’ve interacted with over the years, and I wish him nothing but success and happiness and love.”
McIntyre caught wind of Ballinger’s latest video, which went up Saturday, and promptly issued a response via the platform. He called out Ballinger for “diminishing everything as much as possible” and said her address was a “slap in the face.” He also said that Ballinger never privately apologized to him. During his response, he played Ballinger’s mea culpa and paused throughout to comment on her statements.
Times staff writer Jonah Valdez contributed to this report.