American actor Jeremy Renner, most notably known for his role in the Avengers as Hawkeye, recently fell victim after underestimating the internets caveat for absurdity. In March of 2017, Jeremy Renner launched what was dubbed “Jeremy Renner Offical”, an android and IOS application providing a platform solely devoted to all things Renner, sharing updates on everything from his daily life, the upcoming Hawkeye series, to his musical side projects. Its almost as if the app made Renner himself into a brand, and fan interaction into marketing. The peculiar nature of the project had ears perked across the internet.
Renner’s application was created by the media company EscapeX, which has produced similar platforms for celebrities in the past such as the model and actress Amber Rose, comedian Tommy Chong, and Paris Hilton. Why are celebrities flocking to this platform? According to EscapeX, their mission is to “reimagine social media where control is in the hands of creators, not platforms. Where those driving engagements are compensated, not the networks they use.” Such a trend is no surprise after it was brought to attention that many prominent social media platforms are granted “a non-exclusive, royalty-free, transferrable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use content shared on the platform” in the terms of service. Seems promising. What went wrong?
When you combine a high-profile celebrity with a newly developed platform… especially an unsuspecting one… it’s only a matter of time before hoards of overly-online individuals shred any possibility of the application succeeding as intended. The demise of Jeremy Renner Offical was quite similar to the way a lion decimates a baby antelope, unsuspectingly grazing one moment, then utterly helpless when hell breaks loose faster than the Indy 500 the next.
Who fired the starting gun that kicked off the feeding frenzy of the Jeremy Renner app? It took just one person, by mistake, as a matter of fact, to destroy the app single-handedly; causing as much devastation as thermite would on an artillery battery. The culprit behind the unintentional search and destroy mission was Stefan Heck, comedy writer, and member of the charmingly derisive twitch stream, “The Go Off Kings.”
Heck’s thermite was one five-lettered word, which would reveal a vulnerability in the application virtually breaking it. Heck broke down the fiasco in an article he wrote for Deadspin, headlined, “I Broke The Official Jeremy Renner App By Posting The Word “Porno” On It.” It all began on August 20th after Heck downloaded the official Renner app. Heck came across a post from Renner wishing his fans “a rocking weekend” going on to ask if his fans had any plans. Heck, seeing the opportunity, decided to let Renner know exactly what he would be doing, replying “I will be looking at porno on my computer.” Satisfied, Heck retired from his phone, proud of the staple he made in history, perhaps rivaling the moon landing, as the first person to post the word “porno” on the official Jeremy Renner App.
Moments later, Heck’s phone received a reply, appearing as if Jeremy Renner himself responded, “Nasty! Not cool!” Bewildered, Heck shortly believed Renner responded himself. Instead, the message was actually from Heck’s longtime friend, uncovering that every notification was deceitfully designed to lull naive Renner fans into believing Hawkeye himself sent them messages. Thinking of it as nothing more than something to have a laugh about, Heck shared screenshots on Twitter.
Heck, returning from a hiatus, reopened the app discovering it was “irreversibly shattered.” Heck went on to paint a vivid picture of the anarchy. “Dozens of false Renners had sprouted up, sowing chaos and pretending to like porno.” Trolls spread like wildfire, blotting out genuine fans the same way swarms of locusts do sunlight. Ironic posts shot to the top of the feed exploiting yet another flaw in the app, the star system. The more interactions a post receives, the closer it appears to the top of the feed. Stars could be purchased to do just that. Exploiting the star system, and with the advantage of numbers, trolls overtook the entire application.
From the smoldering ruins of the Jeremy Renner Official App, after banning mischevious users proved ineffective, one final post from Renner waved the white flag. “The app has jumped the shark. Literally.” Renner stated, “Due to clever individuals who were able to manipulate ways to impersonate me and others within the app, I have asked EscapeX to shut it down immediately.” Renner promised all users who purchased stars within the span of 90 days will receive refunds. “What was supposed to be a place for fans to connect with each other has turned into a place that is everything I detest and can’t or won’t condone.” Renner extended an apology to his fans for the early demise of the app, expressing his gratitude for their kind words and encouragement with him while the app lasted, finally ending that he would be looking forward to seeing them again on Instagram, Twitter, Youtube, and Facebook.
The disaster of the Renner app might very well discourage other celebrities from adopting similar platforms. Or perhaps is its failure irrelevant? Maybe it was nothing more than a stunt that fulfilled its purpose. The app’s absurdity in its own right sparked large attention. Just maybe, Renner beat the internet at its own game, whether he realizes it or not.