Meet the #Creedmunity: How one guy’s joke about the new Rocky movie fooled lazy journalists

Meet the #Creedmunity: How one guy’s joke about the new Rocky movie fooled lazy journalists

If you call your publication Fact, you’re really leaving yourself open to gags when you fail to check basic facts.

Say, for instance, when you stumble upon a campaign, purporting to be led by fans of defunct rock band Creed, angered that the upcoming Rocky spinoff ‘Creed’ is cluttering up the Web.

Filmmaker Nick Robinson set up the elaborate joke on Change.org with a petition called “Change the name of the movie Creed.

It begins:

The movie ‘Creed’ about the son of Rocky Balboa’s deceased trainer’s son [sic], is making it difficult, if not impossible, for the still-vital online Creed fanbase to exchange thoughts and discussion regarding band developments, song interpretation, rumors, non-erotic fan fiction, and deeper insights into the expanded Creed universe.

If that didn’t offer enough clues that the internet’s collective leg was being pulled, the petition, addressed to the makers of the film MGM, goes on to suggest alternative titles:

• Rocky’s Creed

• Boxer Creed

• Son of Creed (although, this was the title of a rare 2002 leak of studio demos, the title was never officially used by the band, and thus is not considered canon)

• Apollo Creed’s Son

• Rocky: Son of Creed (while this makes it look like it’s a reveal that Rocky was Creed’s son, this is just an idea and MGM’s marketing department can make it work somehow)

• Rocky: The Next Generation

• Creed (not the band)

And yet, numerous sites have published stories on the gag without highlighting that there really isn’t this fervent online community called the #Creedmunity, championing a rock band (which disbanded in 2004, reunited in 2009 and went on hiatus again in 2012).

Creed are just not an active band and as Robinson says, using a term coined by Grantland, they were a “silent majority rock” act when they were popular:

Creed kind of had their own genre, where they were trying to be Christian rock but vaguely not.  You don’t really know anyone who was a Creed fan. Even back in the day you didn’t, but they were still one of the top selling bands. People just wouldn’t admit to liking them.

The band, particularly its troubled lead singer Scott Stapp, always had an air of taking itself too seriously, something that makes the idea of a crazed online fandom even funnier.

Screenshot 2015-07-03 20.49.25
Robinson’s post on the ‘Creedfeed’ forum

Robinson tried to seed the petition on actual Creed fan forums but found the real community’s former haunts are ghost towns:

On the one board I posted on, there’s been three posts this year. Messages boards are dying out. People get together on Twitter and use hashtags.

As to why he took the time to create a petition for a band he doesn’t like based on a pretty straightforward pun, the answer is simple:

I like to just play around online. I like to find weird stuff. I wouldn’t say call it a hoax or a prank, I just do these things to amuse myself. But when you put anything on Twitter, it instantly becomes real for some people.

While the whole endeavor was just a goof, it’s just the latest example of how easy it is for things to get picked up by online media outlets desperately trying to gobble up ‘content’ to feed the insatiable clicking masses.

Robinson thoughts on it mirror my own:

That’s the problem with a click-driven news economy. In the old days, it wouldn’t have passed the sniff test. But you don’t get ad revenue from articles you don’t run. It makes sense for them to run it.

The ‘boy who cried wolf’ doesn’t apply any more. So many outlets won’t research anything and just grab onto stuff that they run as real.

Out of the many outlets that did go with the story, he says social news machine Mashable came out best or rather least worst: “It researched me the most, pointed to my Twitter account and said the petition was a joke.”

Even then, its headline kept enough ambiguity there to make sure people clicked first and discovered it was made up further down the page.

The ‘Creed’ trailer feat. Creed

No one writing online is entirely immune from that impulse. It’s pretty funny when the stakes are as low as another blow to a rockstar’s ego, but stories on serious issues are frequently pushed through with little or no fact checking.

Of course, I’ve also emailed Scott Stapp to find out what he thinks of the Creed/’Creed’ clash, and the Change.org petition. Unsurprisingly I hadn’t heard back by the time of publication.

Note: An earlier version of this post referred to Creed as a “Christian rock band.” It and its fans do not like that. Happy to make that clear!

Hat tip: I originally saw the link to Robinson’s petition in Rusty Foster’s excellent Today In Tabs newsletter, which sifts through the internet trash pile. 

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Image credit: Screen cap from ‘Higher’ by Creed, (C) 1999 Wind-Up Entertainment, Inc.

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