The Most Infamous YouTuber Apologies That Make Us Cringe

Apologizing can be a hard, humiliating affair. It means that not only has the person done something wrong, but they actually have to admit it to someone and express regret while doing so. Now, imagine that you'd have to make the apology public and subject it to the scrutiny of thousands and even millions of people, and you have an idea of what apologetic YouTube influencers have to face. It doesn't exactly help that the things YouTubers generally have to apologize for are already not only bad enough to warrant a reaction, but widely known and ridiculed on the internet.

Perhaps this is why some of the worst apologies celebrities have made are so very awful, and why it can be so hard for well-known people to make an apology video that actually comes across as sincere. Some feel the need to over-explain themselves or argue mitigating circumstances. Others add a weird gimmick that turns what should be a simple expression of genuine regret into a (sometimes literal) song-and-dance show, one that comes across as just going through the motions at best, and as a cynical attempt at damage control at worst. 

Oh, and since many respected YouTubers are actually terrible people already, there's a fairly steady stream of such videos. At the risk of subjecting ourselves to all sorts of awfulness, let's take a look at some of the most cringeworthy examples of the strange genre of YouTube apology videos. 

The following article includes allegations of child abuse, sexual assault, death by suicide, and hate crimes.

Colleen Ballinger's ukulele apology

Colleen Ballinger, aka Miranda Sings, is a comedy YouTuber who was known for her large following and devoted, young fan base — though after June 28, 2023, there's a chance she's more famous for a very particular ukulele video. That day was when she posted her answer to a massive Rolling Stone exposé, which unveiled multiple allegations of unsavory actions toward her fans. The article detailed reports of abusive behavior by Ballinger and members of her inner circle toward several of her fans — including an instance where she allegedly requested explicit photos from a minor. 

Ballinger's infamous "Hi." apology video isn't exactly apologetic, but it does sit firmly in the "you must see it to believe it" end of the spectrum. The 10-minute video is one long song where Ballinger strums a ukulele, states she's posting the clip against her people's advice, and proceeds to present herself as a misunderstood influencer. According to Ballinger, she's made some mistakes and shared too much, but she eventually grew into her role and started keeping a healthy distance from the fandom. She doesn't offer any real apology, posits herself as the victim, and accuses her critics of spreading lies. 

Such spoken-word verses alternate with a chorus about toxic gossip, and the video ends with a singalong insistence that people can change. The painful video has been called the worst apology video out there, and might just be one of the worst apologies on the internet

Logan Paul's severe and continous lapse of judgement

Logan Paul has created a crossover empire to serve a consumer segment that thrives on combat sports, energy drinks, and excitable helmet-haired dudes. This unlikely niche has made him very rich, very famous, and obviously very popular — but in late 2017, he took his tendency to push the envelope too far when he posted an infamous video of Japan's disturbing "suicide forest," Aokigahara. 

The YouTuber's since-deleted video of exploring the eerie location featured footage of a person who had died by suicide, which caused a massive public backlash and cost him various business opportunities. What's more, the scandal nearly destroyed the career of Paul's brother, Jake, who had nothing to do with the situation but was caught in the mix because of his close association with his sibling. 

Logan soon posted an apology video, which is actually not the worst effort ... at least, if it didn't come in the wake of his earlier, considerably worse apology attempt that he'd posted on X, previously known as Twitter, and which promptly got slammed as narcissistic self-pity. It's also worth noting that in the YouTube video, Paul gave a vague promise of being a better person in the future ... and has had numerous controversies since then. Still, at least in his side hustle as a pro wrestler, he can be reasonably sure that his antics are far from the most controversial thing the WWE has ever done.

The Fine Brothers' React World backlash

Being a successful YouTuber means that you've probably spent some time thinking about your business model — but as it turns out, unwise moves with said business model can cause a backlash. YouTube reaction video gurus Rafi and Benny Fine, aka The Fine Brothers, found this out the hard way when the internet found out that they were attempting to trademark "react" — as in, the actual word — and expand their business into a sort of licensed reaction video franchise, one where others could use a similar reaction video format without fear of The Fine Brothers taking them down ... for a license fee, of course. 

The brothers' full intentions may or may not have been quite as wide-spanning as that, but people quite understandably saw this as a cynical play to appropriate an entire YouTube video genre, and it went over as well as expected. The Fine Brothers soon posted an apology video that didn't exactly help matters, because the video doesn't actually apologize for their idea as much as it does for how they'd previously communicated it. They still express full intent to go through with the trademark-and-franchising project and proceed to Fine-splain it to the viewer, the implication being that the real problem is that fans simply don't understand their business plan. 

Again, the people weren't pleased, and in February 2016, The Good Brothers did the only thing they could, and scrapped their plans. 

Tana Mongeau's motor mouth

On the field of YouTuber crisis control, it's hard to find a more wooden example of a socially mandated apology than Tana Mongeau's 2020 effort, intended to make things right after being called out for alleged racist behavior. A popular YouTube influencer with millions of people following her, Mongeau was already in dire straits with the community after her 2018 attempt to arrange an event called TanaCon. The result was an overcrowded, mismanaged mess that drew comparisons to the tragic music festival disaster of the infamous Fyre Festival. Her reputation was further tarnished when another YouTuber, Kahlen Barry, posted a video that contained allegations of Mongeau's racist behavior — and others pitched in, pointing out similar things about her. 

Mongeau's inevitable apology video came several months after the allegations, a fact that she acknowledged in its title, "A long overdue apology." It's tempting to think that she might have missed a comma there, because, at 14 minutes and 46 seconds, the video is indeed a bit on the long side. However, what makes it truly cringeworthy is the content. A long, motor-mouthed monologue that's delivered in a robotic monotone and clearly pieced together from several short clips, the wordy apology comes across like she's speed-reading from notes or rushing through memorized lines. 

Viewers were quick to point out the insincere vibe. "I feel like I just listened to the terms and conditions that no-one reads," @krystenrock7482 commented. "Why does it feel like she's making this at gunpoint?" @TheCrazyMango82 wondered. 

Context turns David Dobrik's apology into cringe

When a YouTube apology comes with a content warning, it's clear that things are rough. Consider popular influencer David Dobrik's 2021 apology, made amidst a huge and costly scandal about his handling of allegations against his friend, Dom Zeglaitis. After a story surfaced that Zeglaitis had sexually assaulted a woman while making a video for Dobrik's YouTube channel, several collaborators immediately stopped working with Dobrik.

The situation needed addressing, which Dobrik attempted to do on March 22, 2021, with an apology video. He discussed various past accusations toward Zeglaitis, and his own actions as his former friend's unwitting enabler who was aware of some of the allegations — but had nevertheless chosen to believe Zeglaitis' version of events. Removed from context, the disjointed apology might not be particularly cringeworthy, despite its awful subject matter. However, the thing is that the disturbing situation he was apologizing for was just the tip of the controversy iceberg that was Dobrik's early 2021. He faced allegations of injuring and abusing the members of his Vlog Squad and intense online backlash. 

What's more, despite Dobrik's seemingly heartfelt words in the apology video, he admitted in an interview for Rolling Stone that it was difficult to come to terms with the situation. "I was like, 'What? I'm responsible for someone making a bad decision?'" he said. "I didn't get it. But it was all because of this environment of wanting to put on this show."

Sienna Mae Gomez's dancing non-apology

Like some other content creators, Sienna Mae Gomez has been accused of sexual assault. In her case, the assault was allegedly directed exclusively and repeatedly toward one specific person — Jack Wright, another social media star. Before Wright himself got involved, the situation was a long and public back-and-forth that unfolded across various social media platforms. The allegations that Gomez had behaved inappropriately toward Wright surfaced in 2021. After considerable multi-platform back-and-forth between Wright's friends and Gomez, Wright himself eventually affirmed the allegations in January 2022, detailing multiple occasions of her behavior toward him — including groping him while he was unconscious.

The apology video Gomez eventually posted stretches the boundaries of the term, not least because it doesn't feature an actual apology. What it does feature is Gomez stating a temporary hiatus from social media, announcing that she will use the backlash to improve herself as an influencer — and dancing to a Sam Smith song in her underwear. It doesn't have an ukulele, but it's close.

Predictably, the internet was both perplexed and deeply cringed out by Gomez's creative decision to address the situation in such a way. As such, the dance clip is easily one of the strangest and most confusing "apology" videos out there. 

Laura Lee's racist tweets and dry tear ducts

In an age where everything's online, influencers are always at risk of people discovering unsavory things from their past. In 2018, YouTuber Laura Lee found this out when her racist tweets from 2012 surfaced. This was a bad look, but Lee managed to add an element of cringe with the inevitable apology video.

Lee's apology is an extremely uncomfortable watch. Content-wise, she does own up to her past mistakes, says she's sorry, communicates that she has changed for the better, makes zero excuses, and even quite reasonably requests that people don't harass her family members over her actions. However, the message is more than slightly obscured by the blubbering, tearful delivery that comes across as self-pity more than anything else ... especially once the viewer spots that despite Lee's constant wiping of her eyes, there's nary a tear visible. 

Perhaps understandably, Lee went on to spend some time offline. When she returned, she posted a new video that effectively apologized for how her original apology came across, and announced that she'd be deleting the crying clip from her channel. Cringy YouTube apology videos are one thing, but feeling the need to apologize for your original apology takes things to a whole new level. 

James Charles holds himself accountable

On April 1, 2021, beauty YouTuber James Charles released a video that he admitted had no business being released on April Fool's Day. In it, he discussed, partially admitted to, and apologized for online allegations that he had been interacting with underage people in an inappropriate fashion, including sexting. This wasn't his first rodeo, as he had already apologized for racist tweets in 2017, transphobic comments and drama with YouTuber colleague Tati Westbrook in 2019, and involvement in a number of other online scandals. 

However, no matter how much experience anyone has with this sort of thing, it's extremely uncomfortable to see a grown adult admit that they've been in inappropriate contact with underage people, especially when Charles outright uses personal desperation as an excuse for such behavior in the video. It doesn't exactly help that the YouTuber appears to have hidden the video at some point after posting it ... which, it should be noted, kind of defeats the purpose of an apology video that's explicitly titled "Holding myself accountable." 

Charles' corporate collaborators soon started disappearing, his YouTube channel was demonetized, and more allegations of past inappropriate behavior soon started surfacing. On April 17, 2021 — just over two weeks after the apology video — Charles made a post on X (formerly known as Twitter) where he called the new allegations false, threatened legal action, and announced an online hiatus.

Shane Dawson lists it all

Sometimes, the cringe factor in an apology video comes without any extra frills. All it needs is a YouTuber with a suitably unsavory résumé listing his past misdeeds. 

Shane Dawson definitely matched this description. His 20-minute apology, made in June 2020, was prompted by fellow YouTuber Jenna Marbles owning up to her own problematic content and stepping away from the platform — and as people familiar with Dawson's videos know, he had a good reason for making the video so long. His laundry list of apologies on the video includes, but is by no means limited to, playing with themes like blackface and child abuse. As he rattles off his past murder fantasies and shock antics, it's pretty hard to feel sympathy for the dewy-eyed, present-day Dawson, who openly proclaims how much he's scared of everyone hating him. 

In some reality, the internet might have forgiven Dawson's past antics after the extensive apology. That reality, apparently, is this very one, since despite his suspicions that his content creator career might be over with the apology, Dawson has continued to post popular videos on his channel. This is despite the fact that soon after the apology, an old and extremely unsavory video about him and a picture of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith's then 11-year-old daughter, Willow, turned up. 

Linus Tech Tips monetized the apology

In 2023, YouTube channel Linus Tech Tips was in trouble: After mistakes they made during a product review caused a snowball effect that revealed issues with the way the channel operated, the channel's founder and namesake Linus Sebastian ended up fanning the backlash flames with his initial reaction to the situation. It was soon time for an apology video, and, in all fairness, what they released was as thorough as you'd expect from a long-running tech channel. 

Several high-ranking people from the company producing the channel make an appearance to address the situation from their own viewpoints ... for 16 minutes. Eventually, Sebastian himself — freshly demoted into a Chief Vision Officer — takes over to explain. Aside from some disapproval over the fact that it has jokes, the video is easy to see as a pretty well-crafted 20 minutes of damage control. 

Apart from one problem, that is. The apology video was monetized, which means that, in effect, it was just another post for Linus Tech Tips to make money with. Despite the fact that they soon demonetized it, fans had plenty of time to notice. Not the best look — especially since the video went live shortly after a former Linus Tech Tips employee made allegations of inappropriate behavior and an unhealthy workplace culture within the company. 

If you or anyone you know may be the victim of child abuse or sexual assault, has experienced a hate crime, or is struggling or in a crisis, contact the relevant resources below:

  • The Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services.

  • The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

  • The VictimConnect Hotline by phone at 1-855-4-VICTIM or by chat for more information or assistance in locating services to help. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

  • Call or text 988 or chat