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How the Area 51 Raid Meme Became the Biggest Joke in the Galaxy

Humor TIME

'Let's see them aliens'
'People organize events on Facebook all the time. But rarely do 1.5 million RSVP to attend. Yet that’s what happened when three pseudonymous users created an event to “storm Area 51,” the secretive military base in southern Nevada that has long been associated in the pop culture imagination with extraterrestrial activity. Now, the Area 51 raid has become a meme, inspired stars like Lil Nas X to jump on the bandwagon and even galvanized the Air Force itself to share a response. Here’s how the Area 51 meme all happened. The Facebook event Back on June 27, the public event “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us” appeared on Facebook. It’s hosted by three users: one a meme account , one a “gaming video creator” and one an event planning account. As of Wednesday, 1.5 million people RSVPed to “attend,” with another 1.1 million responding as “interested.” The plan is simple: on Sept. 20 at 3:00 a.m., the group will arrive. “We will all meet up at the Area 51 Alien Center tourist attraction and coordinate our entry,” the event explains. “If we naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets. Lets see them aliens [sic].” ( “Naruto” running is a style of running popularized by the Japanese anime character of the same name, in which the arms are held behind the body while in motion.) Since then, a conversation of tens of thousands of comments has developed, with more intricate maps and planning. The most popular comment with a plan of attack, however, has an important disclaimer: “P.S. Hello US government, this is a joke, and I do not actually intend to go ahead with this plan,” the commenter wrote. “I just thought it would be funny and get me some thumbsy uppies on the internet.” It’s gotten 112,000 likes, so that was a success. The #StormArea51 memes Inevitably, the plan became a meme with a (extraterrestrial) life of its own over the following few weeks. The internet began sharing animations and illustrations of all kinds of scenes with added aliens — or plans on how to care for and live with said aliens. These memes picked up speed in the second week of July. The alien I stole from Area 51 showing up in my room at 3am to tell me he threw up pic.twitter.com/SnzXmozc1i — yeet (@irritatingshit1) July 12, 2019 The aliens at Area 51 waiting on that “we outside” text 💀 pic.twitter.com/HJECAOdgp6 — Juan Jose (@juanjose7_) July 12, 2019 Me and the alien I'm finna rescue from Area 51 cruising back to the hood to scoop the homies #StormArea51 pic.twitter.com/GwjSgkHl43 — J-Money40 (@money40_j) July 12, 2019 Time to prepare #StormArea51 #Area51 pic.twitter.com/QSr1xNvFbE — Tav👸🏾 (@princess_tavren) July 12, 2019 the us government finally freed the bro pic.twitter.com/dkwmyXsx5c — nope (@LilNasX) July 17, 2019 The Air Force response Thanks to the widespread popularity of the plan, the Air Force itself has went so far as to clarify that any prospective attendees should definitely stay away. “Any attempt to illegally access military installations or military training areas is dangerous,” a spokesperson shared in a statement to various news outlets on July 16, noting that Area 51 — also called the Nellis Test and Training Range — is technically just “an area where the Air Force tests and trains combat aircraft.” Most people seem in on the farcical nature of the joke, but at least one hotel in the area is already booked solid for Sept. 20, the New York Times reported . The Lil Nas X video On July 16, viral rapper Lil Nas X blew things up even further by releasing an animated music video for a remix of his record-breaking chart hit “Old Town Road” with country star Billy Ray Cyrus, rapper Young Thug and famous Walmart yodeling kid Mason Ramsey. In a Family Guy -esque style, the video imagines a scenario in which Area 51 security is forced to respond to the threat of the four artists arriving on horseback (and, well, snake-back in the case of Young Thug), with the assistance of none other than meme favorite Keanu Reeves . (Reeves, naturally, is pictured “Naruto running.”) They befriend the aliens within and ride off into the sunset. The video is number five on YouTube’s trending chart as of July 17, with over 3 million views. It also has spawned its own sort of meta-memes. This is the entire summer of 2019 compressed into one tweet. https://t.co/2pIS7PDTGC — Jimmy Chi @ SDCC (Invite me to parties plz) (@FailedAsian) July 16, 2019 The “Storm Area 51” website The organizing group has also launched a website to go with their plan, noting that “something big is coming.” But as of publish, the site is mostly a place for them to sell merch associated with the proposed Area 51 raid. While the raid itself may be a big joke, it has developed a life of its own that will live on in internet lore — at least on this planet.'