LOS ANGELES — Internet personality Colleen Ballinger, known for her beloved Miranda Sings character, has responded to claims of inappropriate behavior with minor fans by singing a song.
In recent weeks, Ballinger became the target of fellow YouTubers and former superfans who accused her of “grooming” them for labor, as well as allegedly making sexual jokes with minors in a group chat. As the allegations swirled, the “Haters Back Off!” actor, who is in the middle of a Miranda Sings tour, had stopped posting on her social media pages for nearly a month.
Ballinger broke her silence Wednesday, posting a 10-minute video on her Colleen Vlogs YouTube account titled “hi.” In it, she addresses the allegations in the form of a song, while strumming a ukulele. Ballinger’s team “strongly advised me to not say what I want to say,” she sang, adding cheekily that she “recently realized that they never said that I couldn’t sing.”
“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,” Ballinger sang. “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 refers to a recently resurfaced clip from one of Ballinger’s live shows, in which 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 with several companies on her “Relax!” podcast. The Los Angeles Times confirmed with New York-based online telemedicine appointment service Zocdoc that it had canceled its advertisements on Ballinger’s podcast amid the drama.
“I never had any bad intentions, but I do feel like s—,” Ballinger sang toward the end of her 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 claimed that Ballinger used him for unpaid social media work to revive her Miranda Sings account before severing ties with him over a controversial tweet that he had sent on her account about LGBTQ+ people, then ghosting him. Ballinger also drew fire for sending underwear to McIntyre as a joke.
Ballinger had 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 work 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.”
Fans rallied around Ballinger after her apology and continued to support her work, dismissing McIntyre’s allegations.
Earlier this month, however, McIntyre doubled down on his stance that he had been wronged by Ballinger, claiming that she “used” and “groomed me.”
The issue resurfaced after YouTube personality Kodee Tyler, known as KodeeRants, shared a lengthy video June 3 retelling her relationship with the Miranda Sings star and Ballinger’s “toxic” fan base. She referenced McIntyre’s earlier video about Ballinger, defending him for speaking up in 2020. Days later, Tyler deleted the video and disabled her YouTube and other social media accounts.
Tyler also shared purported screenshots that she had obtained that appeared to show Ballinger asking minors in a group chat whether they were a virgin, and to name their favorite sex position. In a follow-up video, McIntyre claimed that he was the recipient of those texts in the group chat, adding that he was 15 at the time.
Tyler acknowledged that she was also in the same group chat, already an adult at the time, and apologized, saying, “I should not have been in a group chat with minors.”
Ballinger acknowledged her group chats and direct messages with fans in her sung statement, admitting that she had at times lacked “boundaries” and would “overshare details of my life, which was really weird of me.” But she added that she changed her behavior years ago and had since held herself accountable.
McIntyre took to his YouTube channel to respond to Ballinger’s statement, saying he didn’t get a private apology from the performer. “We’re getting a video of you singing a song, making fun of it all?” he said. “I’m so happy for you, Colleen, that you get to make a silly little song about this and no repercussions. … There will be no repercussions for what you’ve done to people and what you’ve done to me.”
Since she started posting videos of her Miranda Sings character in 2009, Ballinger has tapped the hate she’s received online and channeled it into her over-the-top diva persona. She crafted Miranda as an egotistical satire of an internet personality who sings badly and has poor comic taste.
“People hated me … that was all i got in the beginning was hate — people despised Miranda,” Ballinger said during a 2017 appearance on “The Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon. In the early days of YouTube, Ballinger said she was still unaccustomed to online trolls sending hate mail. So instead of tuning them out, she listened and “would egg it on.”
“So in each video, if they said they didn’t like my lipstick, I’d make it bigger,” she said. “If they didn’t like the way I was talking, I would talk weirder. So, the haters kind of created the weird character, because whatever they hated, I did it more.”
Her fame hit a high point in 2016 when Netflix allowed her to develop a two-season series, “Haters Back Off!” based on her Miranda character. Along with appearances on Fallon’s late-night show, she graced the cover of Variety and appeared on “Chelsea” with Chelsea Handler and “Live With Kelly and Ryan.”
In 2018, Ballinger gave the Times a tour of her Encino home, half of which she had designated for office work, pointing to her favorite non-Miranda items, such as her ukuleles. The other half was dedicated to her Miranda character, with eccentric fan art and gifts, such as drawings and dolls fashioned as her alter ego, adorning the walls. The closet space was lined with colorful, campy costumes. The space served as the backdrop for many of her Miranda videos.
“I wouldn’t be in this house if it weren’t for the fans watching my videos and supporting me,” Ballinger told the Times. “So it’s important to have them be a part of the videos and journey.”
Representatives for Ballinger did not immediately respond to the Times’ requests for comment.