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Sunday, December 5, 2021

All hail Hawkeye: why Jeremy Renner doesn’t deserve your scorn

A similar strand of bad luck extends to Renner’s work outside of acting. Like Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP and Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James before him, Renner too has embraced the allure of an entrepreneurial side project, in 2017 announcing the premiere of his own smartphone app. Called “Jeremy Renner”, the app promised “exclusive content [and] contests” and updates on his lucrative house-flipping career. According to a press release, the app presented Renner with the opportunity to “expand his already deep relationship with his millions of fans all over the world”.

But the low-rent brand extension created headlines more puzzling than supportive, with the app’s odd, Renner-written push notifications inspiring mockery (sample: “Love stream. Lol. Live stream. Jet laaaaaaaag. Hahaha. A love stream”), as did a video clip of Renner singing House of the Rising Sun that auto-played as soon as you fired up the app.

It’s also garnered attention for its users, who sparked a mutiny over claims that Renner’s team had deleted negative messages posted on the app. “Your app is like [a] totalitarian regime,” one Renner fan raged on Twitter, citing censorship. Others also claimed that “superfan contests” to spend one-on-one time with Renner at comic conventions and on the Avengers set had been rigged. In 2019, following merciless ribbing from comedians and various YouTubers, Renner took the sensible decision to shut the app down; the landscape of Jeremy Renner fandom has never been the same.

The app, which rewarded “superfans” who made in-app purchases, at least proved that Renner has a following. But it was an an unusual, off-brand means to monetise them, more in keeping with Krusty the Clown’s home pregnancy kit than something that makes much sense for a star of Renner’s stature. His fellow “stars” on the books of “influencer app developer” EscapeX included Lord of the Rings actor Dominic Monaghan, High School Musical actress Ashley Tisdale, and a 14-year-old girl who boasts of winning the 2015 Miss Florida Jr. pageant.

Renner has made no attempts to hide his appreciation for money. An actor who didn’t truly make it until the relatively long-in-the-tooth-for- Hollywood age of 38, Renner began acting at 24, popping up here and there in TV series like Angel and landing small roles in 2003’s S.W.A.T. and the Charlize Theron drama North Country. But work and a regular paycheck were also difficult to come by. He told The Guardian in 2012 that he was living without electricity when he was cast in The Hurt Locker.

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