In quarantine, the days feel long and the YouTube drama even longer. With not much else to occupy our brains during lockdown and so many of our favorite movies and TV shows being delayed, the internet is all when have when it comes to entertainment. At this point, we're all familiar with the concept of YouTube apology videos. There's the infamous feud between James Charles and Tati Westbrook as well as the Olivia Jade apology video I've imagined in my head. However, I don't think any apology video has ever been about as many things as this one made by Colleen Ballinger, the creator behind Miranda Sings.
If those names don't ring a bell, we'll get to that in a moment, but while the rest of us were sheltering in place, it appears a hive of ex-Ballinger fans went on the hunt and resurfaced multiple instances of problematic behavior from the creator ranging from racist caricatures, fatphobic comments, and an inappropriate relationship with one of her fans that included sending him her underwear. After a few weeks of this stuff bubbling up, Ballinger finally addressed it all in one jam-packed apology video. Let's break it down.
Who is Colleen Ballinger?
Colleen Ballinger was once at the height comedy as far as your middle school self was concerned. She embodied the YouTube character "Miranda Sings," an off-key, uncoordinated, and extremely unfashionable adolescent. She also has a particular way of speaking. The character garnered over 10 million YouTuber subscribers and became so successful that Netflix even turned it into a TV show. Now, married with a son, Ballinger has mostly moved on from the character, and instead makes lifestyle and comedy videos for her 8 millions subscribers on her personal account. She was previously married to YouTuber Joshua David Evans before they publicly split in 2016.
Which videos are making people upset?
Ballinger is one of the OG YouTubers, so she's been around for a while. Recently, videos resurfaced from over 10 years ago that show the creator mocking Latina stereotypes, making fatphobic comments, and telling a disturbing story about the death of her dog.
In one video with her sister, Rachel Ballinger, the pair have done their makeup and put on accents to create a degrading and stereotypical depiction of Latinas.
In another resurfaced video, Ballinger goes on a fatphobic rant about a woman who sat next to her on a plane.
And then there's this video of Ballinger telling a story about how her dog bit her when she was a kid. The dog had to be put down as a result, and fans feel she relays the story too flippantly.
What about this whole sending-underwear-to-a-minor thing?
So there's this whole other can of worms what was opened last month when a 17-year-old YouTuber and longtime Miranda Sings fan made a video about the ways he feel Ballinger took advantage of him and treated him poorly during their friendship. Among many things, he says the creator jokingly sent him underwear after he asked her to during a live video four years ago. In retrospect, he's uncomfortable with the interaction because of his age.
He also accused Ballinger of sharing too much of her personal life with him surrounding her divorce, as well as cutting him off and gossiping about him after he was given temporary control of the Miranda Sings Twitter account. Apparently, he posted a controversial tweet that he says Ballinger had previously approved.
How did she respond?
As far as the problematic resurfaced videos are concerned, Ballinger has acknowledged and apologized for each instance and takes all blame for their contents.
"I watched this clip and I was appalled and shocked that those things were coming out of my mouth 12 years ago because that is not the woman who I am today," she said of one of the videos, later adding, "I've learned from these things and I will continue to learn from them and grow from them to become the best me that I can possibly be."
Things with the underage fan get a bit trickier. She starts this segment of the video by explaining that the reason she did not immediately respond to the accusations was because she had received an Instagram message from the fan's mother asking her to "never speak [her] son's name again." However, she believes the controversial videos were dug up in response to her silence, so she decided to open up.
While Ballinger provided some context for the accusations against her and takes full responsibility, she insists there was no seedy, secretive, or malicious motives behind her actions, and that sending the fan underwear was supposed to be joke.
"No, I should have never sent a fan underwear, how stupid am I? No, I should have never given him access to my Twitter account, and no I shouldn't have talked to him as often as I did," she acknowledged, calling on fans to be respectful in their criticism of her during this backlash. "But I am not a monster, I am not a groomer, and I shouldn't kill myself. Be careful with the words you choose to use."
She does not explicitly apologize to the fan, but says she still cares about him and wishes him nothing but the best.
Has the fan responded?
The fan has been taking a social media break after posting his initial video, and his parents reportedly now have control of his accounts. On Twitter, his mother posted a response to Ballinger's video that seems to suggest not all is forgiven. She posted a screenshot of messages between Ballinger and her son that she feels were inappropriate, and says the Instagram DM was a "mother-to-mother" appeal.
Watch the full apology video below.