Parents Are Livid That YouTube Star Blippi Hired an Actor to Portray Him on Live Tour
Parents are now demanding refunds to the show, which they believed would feature Blippi, a YouTube star beloved by preschoolers.
Parents of preschoolers know their kids can't get enough of YouTube, and one of their most beloved series on the platform stars Blippi, a goofy dude in orange glasses, a bowtie, and suspenders, created and portrayed by Stevin John. Blippi videos often rack up over 20 million views, so it's no wonder that when a live Blippi tour was announced earlier this week, parents clamored to get tickets for their kids. But now parents are furious because John has confirmed that he isn't appearing on the tour—an actor portraying the "character" of Blippi is.
John told Billboard explained why he opted out of the tour. “I won’t be on the road, but I am obviously extremely involved with the whole process,” he noted. “Blippi is as a character and I’m the creative force behind it, but since YouTube is a monster and all of these platforms are really crazy, I can’t go on the road for many weeks or months at a time.”
Instead, the YouTube star said he is hiring an actor who will be trained to master the mannerisms kids identify with Blippi. "My advice to them will be to try and envision what it was like to be a child and remember how your excitement and imagination we're at such an elevated level,” John told Billboard. “I really try and remember what it's like to be a child. I had a great childhood and I want my audience to have a great childhood and get excited about life and to love learning."
No matter how dedicated this actor might be to Blippi's portrayal, parents feel duped, because the only place this discrepancy was noted was in fine print on the Blippi Live website.
“I’m livid,” said Dana Oliver, who spent about $400 on three 6th row tickets plus two "meet and greet" tickets to take her kid to see the Toronto show, told BuzzFeed News. “I’m trying to get a refund.”
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Another mom who spent $460 on tickets and meet-and-greet packages for her family of four ultimately got a refund, telling BuzzFeed: "I called Ticketmaster and argued with them as they were equating it to Disney on Ice and him being a ‘character.' But I argued that he IS the character and it would be like the Wiggles touring with replacements!"
Ticket prices for the 30-show tour range from $26 to $70 (plus fees), and a "meet and greet" after the show cost an additional $40 to $51.
Turns out this live tour controversy isn't the first eyebrow-raising issue involving John. BuzzFeed reported that in 2013, pre-Blippi, John made Jackass-esque comedy videos as “Steezy Grossman," one of which involved him pooping on a friend. Thankfully, that clip has been scrubbed from the internet.
In a statement to BuzzFeed about the clip, John said, “At the time, I thought this sort of thing was funny, but really it was stupid and tasteless, and I regret having ever done it."
Will he similarly regret sending a proxy to portray Blippi in this tour that parents are understandably frustrated about? Only time will tell.