Culture

Junk Explained: So, Uh, Why Is Everyone Saying That They’re Going To Raid Area 51?

They can't stop all of us.

Alien -- Area 51

Most of the time, the internet is impossibly quick on the uptake. Trends are over in hours, not days, and jokes become meta so quickly it’s often hard to even parse where they first came from. But for whatever reason, the internet seems to have totally missed the fairly alarming proof that aliens exist.

Yep, over the last few years, the US government has pretty much admitted that crazy shit happens all the fucking time.

For instance, in May 2016, extremely reputable outlet The New York Times reported that a number of navy pilots had seen strange flying objects that they couldn’t explain. The year before that, they released footage of gobsmacked pilots pointing out a series of bizarre structures in the sky. So, yeah, aliens are definitely probably a real thing, and they’re here.

But for whatever reason, none of that seemed to really break through into the mainstream. That is, until recently.

Now, it looks like the internet is finally coming around to the idea that we are not alone in the universe. Not, mind you, by considering the implications of the discovery on philosophy, or science, or anthropology. Nope. The internet is dealing with the news the only way it knows how — by turning it into a complicated, meme-saturated plan to storm Area 51.

What Is Area 51?

The only thing most of us know about Area 51 is that we don’t actually know anything about Area 51, and the stuff we do know is probably false. For instance: it’s not actually called Area 51. That’s just a codename that it was referred to in a series of CIA documents pertaining to the Vietnam War. According to the US military, the facility is actually more commonly referred to as Homey Airport or Groom Lake (which are exactly the kind of horrifyingly bland names that you’d expect the American military to give to one of their most secret bases).

And that’s exactly what ‘Area 51’ is: a highly classified facility, owned and operated by the American military. Its exact function is a closely-guarded secret — but because people can’t leave things alone, the world at large has decided that must mean that it’s where the government keeps all of their captured aliens.

Indeed, the area of Nevada around the facility is referred to as the ‘Extraterrestrial Highway’, and Area 51 has become a codeword for everything to do with UFOs.

So, as soon as aliens started bubbling to the minds of the public, Area 51 is the first place they turned. And when they turned, they brought with them a plan to break into America’s most closely guarded military base.

Why Are People Threatening To Raid Area 51?

Though it’s really taken off on Twitter, the plan to storm Area 51 began its life on Facebook. The brainchild of a meme page and a Twitch streamer named SmyleeKun, the plan first popped up via a Facebook event titled Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us.

“We will all meet up at the Area 51 Alien Center tourist attraction and coordinate our entry,” reads the event description. “If we Naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets. Lets see them aliens.”

It’s an excellent gag. Unsurprisingly then, within a matter of days, the event took off. It now boasts one million event attendees, and more than 50,000 comments, most of which are beautiful memes about alien life.

Of course, that meant it was only a matter of time before those meme-loving fucks on Twitter picked up the slack, and one viral trend became something of a phenomenon.

Of course, it wouldn’t really be an internet trend if the brands didn’t get involved — and lo and behold, here comes Chipotle, lumbering over to join the fun.

So, Should You Actually Storm Area 51?

Definitely not. The American military has already said that they will absolutely shoot you to death if you try, we might all love memes but this is not a joke to them, they probably store all of their most disturbing plans for world domination in that building. Naruto running will unfortunately not save you from a lot of bullets, next question please.

What Does All Of This Actually Mean?

Most of the memes surrounding this new plan to free our alien brethren from their torment are relentlessly optimistic. The aliens in these cultural stories are weird, sure, but they’re harmless — fun-loving children who are either baffled by our world, or quickly seduced by it.

That’s significant. Though most mainstream films and books might fixate on the idea of aliens as either intelligent, vicious oppressors (a la the hilarious Mars Attacks!) or sadistic animals (a la the horrifying Alien: Resurrection), for most of us, it’s far scarier to imagine that we’re alone in the universe than crammed in here with a bunch of green people.

Aliens give some function to our lives — some meaning. They make us feel like part of a whole — a complicated, biological system that spans the universe — rather than a lonely species, rapidly starving ourselves of our natural resources.

After all, in a scary world getting scarier, it’s hard to imagine how any alien — no matter how bug-eyed and gloopy — could be more intimidating than the next 50 years.


Joseph Earp is a writer and critic based in Sydney, who Tweets @Joe_O_Earp.

Lead image credit: Pixabay.