9 September 2019
The Jeremy Renner vanity app is dead, killed by a single post by comedy sniper Stefan Heck.
I’ve been a fan of Jeremy Renner (the actor) since 2004 but I’m happy to see the back of Jeremy Renner (the app). When it was launched in 2017, I cringed. It was obvious to me that it wouldn’t end well.
The main problem was the structure of the app itself. Despite the spiel about wanting to “connect directly with fans” it was obviously about monetising the most obsessive. It had a hierarchy based on in-app purchases supposedly indicating their level of “loyalty”, but lacked transparency, with moderators handing out free stars randomly to the most obsequious and least questioning of worshippers. Was I really that sad that I would spend hundreds of dollars for “the chance to be seen” by him? No, I wasn’t. But plenty of people were – and when they didn’t get their pound of flesh they weren’t happy. It was utterly toxic, and I left within weeks. Elsewhere on the internet, the app provided plenty of sticks to beat Jeremy with.
The fans that bought into the app were true believers. But far from being a ‘Rennertopia’ (sorry), it was a disaster. Many appsters speculated that his former house-flipping partner Kristoffer Winters was actually the one behind the project, while it’s likely that developer Escapex’s staff were the ones interacting with users on Jeremy’s behalf. Its death leaves nothing but a cautionary tale for other wannabe celeb app billionaires and the disappointed hopes of obsessive super-Stans and the now tarnished stars they bought in the hope of being noticed.
A major factor in its eventual demise was that contest to meet Jeremy on the Avengers set, a slow car crash which ended up with the “winner” secretly visiting his home instead. The fallout from that was so severe, it eventually led to the whole app being temporarily shut down for “updates”, a ‘factory reset’ which deleted all previous postings and, conveniently, all references to the contest. The “seek and destroy” approach to dissenters when it reopened was brutal, with users taking to Twitter to complain about being banned from the app for asking questions, their comments deleted, and comparing it to a “totalitarian regime”. Winters, now commenting as Jeremy’s business manager, dismissed the claims, blaming users who came to the app to hate.
Despite all this, I downloaded it again to see if it had improved (I feel like I should explain why at this point, which again was part of the problem – it was embarrassing) but it was actually worse. I left within days, this time for good. In his statement about the closure last week, Jeremy said it had “turned into a place that is everything I detest and can’t or won’t condone”. I would argue it had been that way from the start.
This isn’t to say that celebrities should avoid getting into the app market – the Kardashians, Aaron Paul’s Yo B*tch! or Tom Hanks’ Hanx Writer have all done very well – but Jeremy Renner (the app) was dogged by accusations of bullying and fake accounts long before Stefan Heck got involved, and Jeremy Renner (the actor) sadly wasn’t popular enough to offset the haters.
So the app is no more. But there is a silver lining in the shape of his Amazon store selling archery accessories and camping essentials, announced a day later. A cynic might suggest that the closure was an elaborate PR stunt to make sure he was in the news when the storefront was launched, while at the same time getting rid of what had become an albatross around his neck. Can I pay for trail mix with stars, I wonder?