The online backlash toward Colleen Ballinger continued to escalate Wednesday after a Twitter user went viral for resurfacing old footage of the YouTube star performing to Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” in face paint that people said looked like blackface.
The video shows Ballinger, who is known for her satirical online persona Miranda Sings, in a black leotard singing off-key to the song while awkwardly dancing barefoot on stage with two back-up singers. Her face appears to have paint smeared on it. Some online suggested the paint is actually green. Others expressed outrage, convinced it was blackface. There were also those who said regardless of what the face paint color was, “she should have known better than to do something that could even be potentially misconstrued that way.”
The video was first shared in February 2018 on Ballinger’s Miranda Sings YouTube channel, which has 10.7 million subscribers. It currently remains viewable but is unlisted, and doesn’t show what was performed on stage before or after “Single Ladies.” Fourteen years ago, Ballinger posted another video of herself not on stage dancing along to “Single Ladies” in a leotard sans face paint.
A representative for Ballinger did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
By Wednesday evening, “Blackface” trended across Twitter, with many criticizing Ballinger for her past behavior.
Paige Christie, the social media influencer who posted the video, wrote in the caption, “I’m gonna need someone to explain the black on her face …”
Christie and other viewers suggested the performance was posted as an unlisted YouTube link available to those who purchased her 2018, “My Diarrhe” and who scanned a QR code that was shared below text that reads “some of my west end preformenses.”
NBC News was unable to confirm if the book featured a QR code to the unlisted YouTube link.
It’s the latest controversy surrounding Ballinger, 36, who is considered one of YouTube’s original stars. She has amassed a following of more than 22 million subscribers across different YouTube channels. She also had a Netflix show that ran two seasons, and a comedy special currently available to stream on the platform.
In the past few weeks, Ballinger has faced a wave of backlash following allegations that she engaged in inappropriate and exploitative relationships with underage fans.
In 2020, allegations about Ballinger’s behavior were made public when YouTuber Adam McIntyre made a video claiming she formed an inappropriate personal friendship with him when he was 13 to 16 years old, which included her sending him lingerie as a joke. She responded to some of McIntyre’s allegations in a video titled “addressing everything.”
Last month, McIntyre’s allegations resurfaced when KodeeRants, another YouTube creator, made a video alleging that Ballinger privately shared screenshots of messages with McIntyre in a group chat called “Colleeny’s Weenies.” KodeeRants has since deleted the videos. But in the purported screenshots, Ballinger asks about the group’s “favorite position” and suggests McIntyre include a question in a “Q&A” on his channel about whether or not the then-teen was a virgin.
Last week, Ballinger shared a video, titled “hi,” featuring herself singing an original song in which she addressed the accusations. In the 10-minute video, she strums on a ukulele and addresses what she calls “the facts.”
“A lot of people are saying some things about me that aren’t quite true. Doesn’t matter if it’s true, though, just as long as it’s entertaining to you, right?” Ballinger sings in the video, which was posted to her Colleen Vlogs channel.
In 2020, Ballinger issued an apology after an older video of her and her sister resurfaced in which they pretend to be Latinx women, E! News reported. She said she deleted the video because they didn’t want anyone to be “hurt” by it.
“It is not funny, and it is completely hurtful. I am so ashamed and embarrassed that I ever thought this was okay,” she said at the time, according to E!. “I was a sheltered teenager who was stupid and ignorant and clearly extremely culturally insensitive.”
Ballinger is currently on a Miranda Sings tour, which runs through the fall.
Angela Yang and Doha Madani contributed.