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Miranda Sings Getty.jpg

YouTube Star Colleen 'Miranda Sings' Ballinger Accused of Inappropriate Behavior Towards Younger Fans

By Kayleigh Donaldson | Celebrity | June 15, 2023 |

By Kayleigh Donaldson | Celebrity | June 15, 2023 |

Miranda Sings Getty.jpg

YouTuber Colleen Ballinger, who is best known for her internet character Miranda Sings, is facing a series of accusations of inappropriate behaviour towards her younger fans.

Ballinger has been a YouTube mainstay for well over 17 years, having emerged as an early star on the platform thanks to her character, a talentless and deluded wannabe singer named Miranda Sings. After going viral, she began performing the character in live shows, wrote a book, headlined stand-up events, appeared on Jerry Seinfeld and Jimmy Fallon’s shows, and landed her own Netflix show, Haters Back Off. Aside from this character, Ballinger also headlines her own videos where she details her private life and three children. She’s also maintained her fame on a platform that is well-known for 15-minute fads and has struggled to keep up with the prominence of TikTok. With well over 22 million subscribers and 5.1 billion views to her name, she is undoubtedly a big deal on YouTube.

Ballinger’s fanbase also tends to skew young, and that has driven home how serious the accusations currently dominating social media are. Some of these are a few years old but have only gained attention in the wake of more detailed allegations from prominent online figures.

In 2020, Adam McIntyre, a former fan and unpaid social media intern of Ballinger, uploaded a YouTube video titled ‘Colleen Ballinger, Stop Lying.’ In it, he included a clip from a 2016 live stream where Ballinger opened a box of brand-new clothes from Forever 21, and gave away the items she didn’t want to fans. McIntyre received a pair of panties from her. He was a teenager at the time. Ballinger offered an apology for that incident at the time, saying that, while ‘context is everything’ and the underwear was unworn, ‘I should have realized and recognized how dumb that was and never sent it to him no matter how much he asked.’

This month, McIntyre has begun tweeting extensively about his later experiences with Ballinger. He says that this apology video only led to further bullying of him by her fans, and that he wasn’t the only young fan to face her nasty behaviour.

He said he also wrote and posted to the official Miranda Sings account from 2017 to 2020 without payment, and had been included in a group chat with other teenagers where Ballinger, now 36, asked inappropriate, sometimes sexual questions.

Questions have also arisen about the appropriateness of Ballinger’s Miranda Sings character for her primarily younger fanbase, particularly regarding fan interactions during her live shows. One fan tweeted a photograph of herself at a Miranda Sings show, where she’d been invited on stage to perform a, to put it mildly, extremely uncomfortable act with her. She added, ‘she encouraged her fans to wear revealing clothing so we would get called on stage. and then she exploited us and our bodies for her own gain.’ I’ll link to it because it’s honestly pretty stomach-churning (and there’s video of it too.) Another performance involved bringing a child on-stage to pretend to be pregnant then act out giving birth to Ballinger.

Ballinger has not responded to any of this and is currently on tour as Miranda Sings.

We’ve talked a lot about the ways that power breeds abuse, particularly in the entertainment industry, but I think it’s worth noting the highly specific ecosystem of online fame and how it differs in this regard. YouTube isn’t quite the wild West that TikTok is nowadays, but it’s still a messy platform that often turns a blind eye in the name of page views. This is a website built on fostering deep and parasocial relationships between its content creators and their fans, all to perpetuate the idea that anyone can be a YouTube star if they work hard enough. There’s a closeness with YouTube that we don’t see with, say, movie stars. YouTubers are encouraged to essentially befriend their viewers, to make them feel like they’re part of a loving community. This can frequently breed an insidious hierarchy of fandom, and it seems as though Ballinger weaponized this through having her teenage fans not only create content for her without compensation but be in group chats where she could ask them questions about sex.

If you’re an adolescent and your favourite YouTuber wants to be your friend, you don’t really question the appropriateness of that because you’re probably not sure why it’s a problem. Isn’t it cool that THE Miranda Sings knows who you are? And now you’re part of her inner circle and she feels comfortable making blue jokes with you, which is surely a sign you’re special, right?

And remember, a lot of this stuff wasn’t hidden from the world. It was common knowledge to Ballinger fans for many years. Ballinger’s Miranda Sings act is rooted in that tedious anti-PC schtick where cracking jokes about paedophilia and childbirth to literal kids is ‘okay’ because that’s the persona, not the real person. But even if Ballinger were doing some Daniel Day-Lewis method crap and asking teenagers in a group chat about their virginity for the craft of being Miranda Sings, it wouldn’t be okay. It would still be creepy and exploitative and make you want to throw her into the sun.

This entire situation has led to many questions about Ballinger’s creative and personal intentions, but also the wider rot at the heart of a platform that has a major issue regarding the treatment of children. YouTube still encourages family channels and endless content based on exploiting kids. In 2019, they banned more than 400 channels and disabled comments on tens of millions of videos following growing concerns over child exploitation. Those issues are still present on YouTube. Ballinger is but the tip of a very large iceberg.