I’ve never been in a fight. I’ve been on the receiving end of a number of punches, but engaging in physical violence has never been my thing. That’s just one of many reasons I’m puzzled by Rumblr, a matchmaking app for face pounding that launches today. (Update: It’s fake! See details at the bottom of this post.)
Rumblr bills itself as a “Tinder for fighting.” (I shit you not: That’s a direct quote from the company’s website.) You set up a little profile and add stats like your age, height, weight, and specialty (“karate, other”). Then you swipe left to ignore other users looking for violence or swipe right to incite violence. If you’re a match—this is the best part—you’re invited to schedule a fight or “pussy out.” There’s also a chat feature for pre-fight tracking, as well as a map feature so you can “Explore fights happening near you.”
Clearly, somebody is trolling us. This whole set up screams viral marketing campaign, despite the fact that the developers behind Rumblr insist they’re serious about helping people beat up other people. Still, I have a few lingering questions about what’s going on here.
Is this illegal?
Assault and battery are definitely illegal. Depending on how the fight goes, either participant could be charged with one or both of the crimes. Fighting in public could also amount to disorderly conduct charges as well as unlawful public assembly charges.
But what if nobody gets hurt? Is it still illegal?
You don’t have to hurt anyone to get charged with assault. If you schedule a Rumblr date to take place on a random street corner in Manhattan, which the app’s website seems to suggest, the police will almost certainly come. Even if the event is just “casualty-free casual fighting” as Rumblr advertises, cops don’t have much of a tolerance for any kind of fighting in public.
Why on Earth did Apple allow this in the App Store?
Important detail! Despite the cute little App Store logo on the website, Rumblr is not actually in the App Store. The November 9th release date is actually for a beta web application. The download site features a looping video from Fight Club as well as a doomsday-style countdown.
Is it racist?
Judging by the fact that many of the images on the site feature white people fighting—or hoping to fight—black people, Rumblr does seem a little bit racist.
Is it also sexist?
Screenshots of the unreleased app show options to see “RumblrHER” and “RumblrGROUP” fights. You can assume that the former shows fights between women and the latter is for big brawls. It’s unclear if the app enables men to find women to beat up.
Who came up with this stupid idea?
The developers behind Rumblr are two self-described “recreational fighters” named Matt Henderson and Jack Kim. They recently told the Daily Mail, “We’ve been recreational fighters our entire lives and were tired of the inefficiencies that exist when trying to find someone to fight.” They operate out of WeWork, a co-working facility in downtown Manhattan.
No, but really, it’s a joke, right?
Henderson and Kim insist that they are “100-percent serious” about this idea. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if they were actually trying to drum up attention for their new chain of karate studios. Maybe they have an MMA clothing line coming out. Maybe they just love violence and want to help others love violence, too. It would be great if this turned out to be a big ruse. Perhaps it’s really a neighborhood watch program or some twisted anti-bullying campaign. Perhaps it’s just straight up trolling. Perhaps it is a joke after all.
It’s definitely a promotion for the Fight Club sequel, isn’t it?
It’s almost definitely not a promotion for a Fight Club sequel. Fight Club the movie is based on Fight Club the book by Chuck Palahniuk. There is a comic book sequel that Palahniuk is writing for Dark Horse, but it’s on issue #6. It would be weird for to start viral marketing for it now.
Wait, wasn’t Fight Club actually about capitalism colliding with schizophrenia?
That’s one interpretation.
Is this new app actually about capitalism colliding with schizophrenia?
Update 5:15pm: Turns out Rumblr is total bullshit. It started as a joke, and then the founder’s exploited the attention to draw attention to their newly launched creative consulting agency. I visited the web app when it launched, tried to schedule a fight with what was clearly a chat bot, and was then directed to this statement:
Rumblr started as a portfolio project to help us launch our creative consulting agency, von Hughes. We’re a team of college dropouts with backgrounds in marketing, design, and engineering. Rumblr came about organically as a funny idea amongst a group of friends, but quickly budded into an opportunity to showcase our branding skills. Within a day or two, VentureBeat picked it up as a news story and, within another day or two, it spread to over two hundred news outlets globally. We saw it as an opportunity to show the world our ability to produce a brand and market a product, and that’s what we did. This is our attempt to turn this entire story into something positive. We’ve collectively slept for twenty hours the last three days producing the web application, managing social media marketing efforts, and pursuing news coverage. Rumblr became a relevant topic in multiple countries, cultures, and languages.
We understand that some of you were genuinely looking forward to using an app like Rumblr, and we’re sorry to disappoint. However, if you still are truly wishing to release some built-up angst, consider fighting more pressing issues such as gang violence, domestic abuse, and at-risk youth culture.
Fight on, Matt, Jack, & Andrew
The lying founders did give a shout out to good organizations aimed at reducing violence, which seems slightly hypocritical since they lied and told the world they were helping people fight and then closed the statement by saying “Fight on” but whatever. Don’t hire this dumb new firm.