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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

The year was 2023: Ariana Grande started dating SpongeBob: The Musical actor Ethan Slater (whew…started this one with a bang), and Colleen Ballinger wrote a song on the ukulele to “address” grooming allegations. A lot happened in 2023, and even though it’s the new year, I thought it would be a good idea to revisit two of Hollywood’s most unserious scandals of the previous year. What’s the new year without some reflection?

1. Ariana Grande and SpongeBob

Tell me it isn’t true! Nope… it’s very much real. At the beginning of 2023, Ariana Grande was seemingly happily married to her husband, realtor Dalton Gomez. The two were married for two years, but things changed once Grande took on the role of Glinda in the movie adaptation of Wicked. On set, Grande met Ethan Slater, an actor who famously (or infamously) starred in SpongeBob: The Musical. At the time he met Grande, Slater was married to his wife of four years (and high school sweetheart!), Lilly Jay. The pair were together for 10 years before Slater separated and filed for divorce, leaving the pair no choice but to co-parent their one-year-old child.

That’s really sad, but what does that have to do with Grande? Well, it was also no coincidence that Grande filed for divorce from Gomez earlier in the year. The individual timelines coinciding with the other’s separation from their spouses, turning into dating each other, is all too suspicious to be innocent, IMO. Hear it from Jay herself, who states, “[Ariana’s] the story, really…. Not a girl’s girl. My family is just collateral damage. The story is her and Dalton.”

Here’s where the story gets even trickier! Grande just released a new song titled “Yes, And?” The song itself devours. Serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a few snacks in between. But there’s one line in particular in the bridge that really, really stirs the pot, where Grande asks, “Why do you care so much whose d*ck I ride?” I can’t even imagine the kind of anger Jay feels right now.

All in all, this drama doesn’t appear to have a happy ending and has resulted in the dismantling of a family. As bystanders, we’ll never know the full details or extent of what truly happened. But from what we do know, it isn’t looking good for Grande.

2. Colleen Ballinger and her unseriousness

There’s a lot to discuss and uncover with YouTuber Colleen Ballinger, also known as “family” comedian Miranda Sings. Last year, Ballinger was accused of talking to and taking advantage of underage fans online, subjecting minors to inappropriate comedy acts on stage, and being an exploitative and just plain bad friend. Her comeback response, a YouTube video titled “hi,” was one of the most embarrassing and delusional videos to come out of 2023.

In the YouTube video, Ballinger sings of a “toxic gossip train” that the general public is hopping on to, reaching the “manipulation station” with our “mob mentality.” I have to give it to her, it was kind of catchy! But a catchy song won’t save her from a jail sentence.


Colleen Ballinger, the YouTuber behind the character Miranda Sings, has responded to grooming allegations made against her with a song. #youtube #popculture #fyp

♬ original sound – Brut.

Post YouTube response, Ballinger has laid low in the YouTube community, posting daily vlogs without her Miranda Sings character. She has also since apologized for talking to minors in the first place, stating it was all just “dumb decisions.” On the other hand, countless YouTube and TikTok videos are still being made against her, as the internet never forgets what’s been done years ago.

I wouldn’t blame others for feeling negative about her because, as a child comedian, she was in a very influential position where children could look up to her and see her as a role model. Instead of teaching positive lessons, or at the very least, having age-appropriate humor, she took advantage of their vulnerability and love for her and turned it into something else. It’s clearly something that these children, who are now adults, look back on and feel taken advantage of, or feel that something was very wrong. It’s fair to say this ukulele “apology” video was one of the most unserious things to come out of 2023 pop culture.

Although these two controversies are very different in their natures, both are arguably two of the most popular and scandalous celebrity dramas of 2023. What’s to come in 2024?

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Karolyne Lugo is a third year Instrumental Music Education major with a focus on violin at FSU. Aside from being a staff writer and serving on the social team for Her Campus, she is also a part of multiple organizations on campus. Karolyne is a member of Alpha Omicron Pi, the University Philharmonic Orchestra, and serves as the secretary for NAfME's collegiate chapter at FSU. In her free time, Karolyne likes to read and listen to music!