Corey Feldman dropped an American flag during his performance dedicated to the U.S., prompting upset viewers to criticize him via social media Thursday. Feldman apologized for the move hours after singing his new song “Take a Stand” on NBC’s TODAY show.
“We were excited and grateful to be asked to return to the TODAY show, but there wasn’t much time to prepare,” said the Goonies actor, 45, in a statement to PEOPLE. “We scrambled to find an American flag to use as a patriotic symbol at the last minute and with no rehearsal.”
Feldman continued: “Once I was on stage, my brain reverted to my choreography, which was to throw my hands up in the air with a peace sign. As a dancer, my instinct is to drop anything in my hands. In that live moment, it came off as wrong and for that I’m deeply sorry. It was the exact opposite of my intention.”
In fact, Feldman had told TODAY anchor Tamron Hall that the song was intended to uplift the nation. “This song, by the way, is for America,” Feldman said in a pre-performance interview. “We’re at a time right now when the world needs to focus, really, on peace and love and tolerance, especially with all the bullying. So, this is about the government. This is about the race. This is about the United States.”
The actor-turned-musician’s emotional number followed up his viral performance on TODAY in September, after which he found himself the target of internet trolls who found fault with his energetic choreography and colorful performance style.
“We just wanted to tell everybody that, like, it’s been really painful,” Feldman said in a since-deleted Facebook video about the performance. “We put ourselves out there and we did the best that we could. And, like, I’ve never had such mean things said about me. Like constantly.”
The video showed Feldman crying while sharing his perspective. “All we can say is that we tried really hard,” he said. “Because we love our fans and we just wanted to give them the best show that we could. But we don’t deserve… these things that are said about us are awful.”
However, Thursday’s performance was intended to make a statement that he was going to push forward with his music career after receiving support from Pink, Kesha, Michael Jackson’s daughter Paris Jackson, and friends.
“I’m not letting the bullies get to us,” he explained to Hall on Thursday. “A lot of people get hate in the beginning because we’re doing something new — it hasn’t been done before. But, it’s all about innovation and being an artist, and we can’t be afraid to share our art.”
Watch Feldman’s performance and interview below.