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The Jeremy Renner app was too good for this world

I downloaded the app to commit to a bit, but ended up having a change of heart

World Premiere Of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures “Avengers: Endgame” - Arrivals Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic
Petrana Radulovic is an entertainment reporter specializing in animation, fandom culture, theme parks, Disney, and young adult fantasy franchises.

On Sept. 4, two-time Academy Award nominee, aspiring rock musician, and Hawkeye Jeremy Renner announced that Jeremy Renner — his application — would be closing down.

Those of us on the Jeremy Renner app were treated with a push notification that said “App coming down very soon...” which revealed the final post on the app. In a Papyrus-esque font (clarified by Polygon front page editor Samit Sarkar to be Bradley Hand ITC, not Papyrus), Jeremy Renner posted on Jeremy Renner that Jeremy Renner would be closing down Jeremy Renner.

a screenshot of Jeremy Renner’s goodbye message on the Jeremy Renner app
(full screenshot to really convey the full experience of the Jeremy Renner app)
Jeremy Renner/Escape X via Polygon

“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,” wrote Renner, referring to the influx of trolls who made fake accounts impersonating him and other (often notorious) public figures, such as Jeffrey Epstein and Casey Anthony.

It was a tragedy. Sure, the Jeremy Renner app had sort of become a public joke among skeptics, with screenshots of the bewildering comments section making rounds on Twitter, and reporters bragging about how they crashed the app by using the word “porno.” But amidst the chaos, for true fans of the Jeremy Renner app, weirdly enough, was a place of positivity and brightness amid the raging negativity of the internet.

I should know. I was one of them.

Wait ... Jeremy Renner had an app?

Yes, in fact, he does. Well, did. Jeremy Renner launched his application in 2017 and it was designed to be a little safe haven on the internet for super fans of Jeremy Renner. When it first launched, the skeptical public (and Jeremy Renner naysayers) raised their eyebrows, but quickly lost interest. The only people really into the Jeremy Renner app were people who were really into Jeremy Renner. As it was probably meant to be.

But the community was far from idyllic, even in this downtime. A 2017 Ringer deep dive into the #RenHive reveals community drama, stemming from deemed censorship (if you say mean things about Renner, you get banned, which makes sense since this is supposed to be an app about him)and also some bogus contest. But interest in the Renner app quieted down after that last exposé — only to hike up dramatically in 2019.

The past few months — coinciding with both the success of Avengers: Endgame and Jeremy Renner’s push to become some sort of Imagine Dragons-esque musician — brought the app back to the spotlight. When Jeremy Renner released his cover of “Heaven Don’t Have a Name,” I (and many others online) remembered that, yes, there was an app for that. For shits and giggles, I decided to download it on June 26.

When you sign up for Jeremy Renner the app, it greets you with a short video of Renner explaining that this app is for the “real” fans, a place away from the negativity of social media. Sounds good to me. I made my account, was met with the loading screen image of Jeremy Renner’s brooding face, and began to investigate.

the loading screen of the Jeremy Renner app, featuring Jeremy Renner’s brooding face Jeremy Renner/EscapeX

I learned that the home page of the app was basically a Jeremy Renner-only Instagram feed. Renner posted pictures with little captions. People commented on them — usually things like “hope you’re having a wonderful time!” and “Jeremy be a DEER and make more delightful movies! haha just a little humor. have a good day.” The more you engaged with Renner content, the more stars you earned. More stars meant you could boost your posts, making it more likely that Renner would see your comments and reply. Stars were also available for purchase.

I was skeptical at first, sneering a little as someone who definitely wasn’t about shell out real money for Jeremy Renner stars. But I kept the app on my phone. I urged people to download it. I opened it. I scrolled. I engaged.

And then it got to the point where I, who had 100% downloaded this application as a dumb joke (because I am the type of person who commits to a bit and never lets it go), was looking forward to Jeremy’s push notifications. The weekly Happy Rennsday messages on Wednesdays made me smile. I audibly went “Aww!” when Jeremy Renner wished all of us Rennistas a Happy Weekend or a Good Day. And I wasn’t alone in that sentiment.

a push notification from the Jeremy Renner app wishing users a good day Image: Palmer Haasch for Polygon

“I remember taking [that] screenshot because I was genuinely having an extremely shitty day for some reason and it actually made me feel happy,” says former Polygon intern Palmer Haasch, another user of the Jeremy Renner app who downloaded it just for the lolz but ended up having a genuinely moving experience. “God bless you, Jeremy, bringing me genuine joy through your cursed app.”

For the casual user (I didn’t pay for stars, but I did post some comments) of the Jeremy Renner app, it was a ray of sunshine. Never mind Twitter’s continual garbage fire of negativity; Jeremy Renner was wishing me a good day!

But not everyone wanted to enjoy the peaceful Rennoasis. People made accounts pretending to be not only Jeremy Renner, but notorious public figures and other celebrities, and trolled the application just to get a quick haha screenshot.

Perhaps the team at EscapeX should’ve made it easier to, like, not use Jeremy Renner’s name and profile picture; perhaps there should’ve been better community moderators. But then again, the team at EscapeX probably didn’t anticipate the app’s surge in popularity. It was supposed to be a quiet place for Renner fans.

You might be thinking, Surely, Petrana, you signed up for this app as a joke, are you no better than the people pretending to be Casey Anthony?

To which I counter, yes, I absolutely fucking am.

I’d gotten the app intending to make fun of it in passing, but instead of going out of my way to antagonize the people on there, I merely observed the ecosystem. And I realized that it was actually a pretty rad and peaceful place, where people shared little tidbits about their lives and wished each other good days. I was a committed fan of the Jeremy Renner app by the end of its days.

But on the swirling vortex of stress and garbage that is our internet, nothing gold can stay. Be it TikTok videos of teenage girls earnestly singing to catchy songs or harmless middle-aged folks sharing warm messages on the Jeremy Renner app, anything that is sincere ends up getting absolutely devoured by the cynics, skeptics, and trolls out there.

Rest in peace, Jeremy Renner app. I’ll think of you on Rennsdays.

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