Commentary: Area 51 Madness Explained


lien enthusiasts Karen Peterson, left, and Margaret LeMay, right, take a photograph with a large inflatable alien at the Little A’Le’Inn, in the Area 51 adjacent town of Rachel, Nev., on September 19, 2019. (Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Paulino Mercenari, Contributing Writer

What began as a popular internet meme, has now evolved into a full-on gathering of influencers, alien enthusiasts, and members alike. The hype for this unlikely event started back in late June, when the original creator of the facebook group, Matty Roberts, created a joke event to storm Area 51. Over two million people ended up signing up for it.

Area 51 is a secretive government training facility in the middle of the Nevada desert, which has long been a subject of speculation and claims of hiding UFOs. Now of course, the internet took this too far. A large crowd actually showed up to one of the entrances to the site the morning of Sept. 20, with people arriving as early as 2:00 a.m. Whether people would actually show up and/or attempt to storm the facility become a hot topic for debate. Many people really thought this would be the case. Social media outlets were filled with posts about what the outcome of two million people showing up to the storm the facility would actually be like, and many of the endings were not particularly favorable. Amongst all the videos and posts, it seemed that one thing had been mutually assured: this confrontation between government officials and visitors wouldn’t end well.

One the day actually arrived, we saw a completely different outcome than what we expected. Early videos and livestreams noted that no true storming of the facility had actually taken place. In fact, these so-called Area 51 “stormers” hung around the front entrance striking up conversations with the guards and generally having a good time. Many of the videos show half-hearted protests with joke signs that read “Save ET from the government” or “Clap them alien cheeks.” Though one woman did attempt to duck under a fence and try to make a break for the base, she didn’t get farther than three feet before being turned around by a guard.

Obviously, many of the people that did show up didn’t have any true intention to storm the facility. As a result, this once ominous-sounding event will now go down as the result of an internet meme being taken to the extreme.