When Curiosity Gets Out of Hand


Photo Credit: Moose Gazette

An Area 51 Raid attendee holds up the Vulcan peace sign in support of the theory that aliens are being hidden inside Area 51.

Logan Weisberg, Editor-in-Chief

It goes without saying that the human mind is an amazing thing, and it can be used for tremendous good and tremendous evil; but sometimes the mind manages to produce something so absurd and extraordinary that we don’t exactly know how to classify it.

In this entry into the “When _____ Gets Out of Hand” series, I’m going to discuss the Area 51 Raid. Now, I think it’s important to know that I am writing this article on September 20th, the day of the raid. The event is currently still wrapping up, but as things are dying down and the final numbers are coming in, I think it is a good time to summarize the events of the raid. Did the military actually harm anyone? Did a handful of bold, intrepid citizens manage to discover some new alien friends? If you’re already lost, don’t worry. Everything will be explained to the best of my ability.

The desire to raid Area 51 all started in a Facebook post that went viral. The writer of the post later revealed that it was meant as a joke, but his addendum wasn’t enough to stop the rest of humanity’s insatiable need for answers… and memes?

The raid was planned out in a strange way. The plan was to raid Area 51 at 3am on September 20th and Naruto run away from the bullets. For those that don’t know, Naruto running is a type of running in which one runs with his head down and arms stretched behind him. It is from the hit anime show and manga Naruto, but it has become a meme in mainstream culture. Considering this, it seems obvious that the Area 51 Raid was intended as a meme, despite over two million people on Facebook expressing interest in attending it.

As weeks and weeks passed, the meme of Area 51 died down, with fewer and fewer people talking about it. At this point, it was beginning to seem unlikely that anyone was actually serious about raiding Area 51, and those that professed to be were only doing so for attention.

Still, law enforcement had to take this matter seriously. The U.S. Air Force tweeted that “[Area 51] is an open training range for the U.S. Air Force, and we discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train American Armed Forces… The U.S. Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets.”

On the night preceding September 20th, security was much higher than usual around Area 51, and at 3am (the scheduled “start time” of the raid), a police dog was brought out to discourage any potential “raiders”.

But did anyone actually show up to raid the military base? Yes and no. The Guardian reports that approximately 75 people showed up for the raid. A few more came later in the day, but none of them seemed intent on freeing any potential aliens. Most people milled around, livestreaming the anticlimactic event, and joking with each other. A few actually went about as if they were about to raid the base, but they wound up breaking into laughter as the song “Final Countdown” was played on speakers they brought. Only one person was arrested and it was for public urination.

In summary, the raid on Area 51 proved to be one gigantic farce. The failure of the raid boils down to several main reasons. First and foremost is that the entire thing was a meme, and the lifespan of a meme isn’t very long. The meme of the Area 51 Raid died down long before the raid was scheduled to take place. Secondly, those that might have actually taken the event seriously were likely deterred by the Air Force’s promise to defend the base. Even though the Air Force probably wouldn’t have used any lethal means of resisting raiders, it was possible that tear gas might have been deployed if a large crowd would have attempted to overwhelm defenses. Lastly, I think that deep down, most of us don’t believe in aliens, much less that they are being held captive in a military base that professes to be a testing center for top-secret spy planes (a subject which is interesting enough, without throwing aliens into the mix).

So, for better or worse (probably the former), the Area 51 Raid technically never happened. All the conspiracy theorists will have to hope for better luck next time. For now, I think it would be fair to say that the important thing is that no one got hurt, and now we can all resume our normal lives without the looming threat of a swarm of Naruto runners attacking our government.