Fans accused the YouTuber of allegedly grooming them, so she responded with a ukulele song.
“I just wanted to say the only thing I've ever groomed is my two Persian cats. I'm not a groomer. I'm just a loser,” sings YouTuber Colleen Ballinger in her most recent video - a response to allegations she groomed her young fans.
Featuring a ukulele-accompanied song about a ‘toxic gossip train’ and near-unbearable levels of twee insincerity, it has been labelled the worst apology video of all time.
Uploaded on 28 June, Ballinger's video has over 9 million views (as of 6 July) and continues to be discussed and dissected across drama channels and reddit snark threads for its trivialisation of serious subject matter and embarrassingly dated millennial-isms - fringes and full stops in titles are soooo 2015.
It's also resurfaced conversations about cancel culture and how online content creators should take accountability for their wrongdoings, while the broader accusations against Ballinger have brought to light industry issues around power dynamics and so-called parasocial relationships between influencers and their fandoms - especially those of a much younger age.
Who is Colleen Ballinger?
Colleen Ballinger is a 36-year-old YouTuber, actress and singer, best known for her self-absorbed satirical internet persona, Miranda Sings, who she has been playing since 2008.
In 2016, she became the first YouTuber to get her own scripted TV show on Netflix called ‘Haters Back Off’, a fictional comedy about Miranda Sings trying to find fame. It was cancelled after two seasons.
In 2019, she landed her Broadway debut as Dawn Louise Pinkett in 'Waitress', based on Adrienne Shelly's 2007 film of the same name.
Ballinger continues to upload videos to her Miranda Sings YouTube channel, with over 10 million subscribers, alongside her Colleen Vlogs family channel, where she shares more personal updates about her family, career and chickens.
What are the allegations against Colleen Ballinger?
The online fallout against Ballinger has been metastasising for months, after a number of fans shared the exploitative and inappropriate experiences they had with the YouTuber when they were either minors or very young.
"I looked up to her so much and I just trusted her so much that I did it. I laid down and she just spread my legs wide open for everybody to see," Becky told HuffPost.
The seeds of such unsettling accusations were planted back in 2020, when a former fan named Adam McIntyre released a YouTube video titled ‘colleen ballinger, stop lying’.
McIntyre, who first met Ballinger in 2014 when he was just twelve years old, has been very vocal and thorough in detail about his online relationship with her, alleging that she sent him underwear in 2016 and engaged in sexually inappropriate conversations and "trauma dumping" via a Twitter-hosted group chat called ‘Colleeny’s Weenies,’ which reportedly consisted of mostly 13-17-year-olds.
On 3 July, fellow controversial YouTuber Trisha Paytas released a video in which she denounced her friendship with Ballinger, deleting all episodes of the ‘Oversharing’ podcast they had recently started together.
This happened after a former fan of Ballinger's, Johnny Silvestri, shared screenshots of old messages in which Ballinger had sent him unsolicited nude pictures of Paytas - something she allegedly did to other fans, including a minor.
“Last night the text messages were shown and it’s very clearly from Colleen to a fan, it has over half a million views on Twitter. I’m not embarrassed by [them], I’m embarrassed for her,” Paytas responded.
A meme is born
If there's one thing the internet does well in a crisis, it's turning that crisis into a new meme.
Ballinger offered it up almost fully formed: Responding to something as serious as child grooming allegations with a quaint little ukulele song seems almost unreal in its bizarreness.
From people adding a Guitar Hero overlay (and actually playing it!) to celebrities like Howie Mandel creating their own apology songs on TikTok - the sharp contrast between serious subject matter and ludicrously lighthearted format has become a recipe for online hilarity, and a welcome distraction from the darker allegations against Ballinger that continue to circulate.
Euronews Culture has reached out to a representative of Colleen Ballinger for comment.