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‘Storm Area 51’ Raid Turns into a Lame Festival, Excuse to Sell Merch
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It’s finally happened. The “Storm Area 51 They Can’t Stop All of Us” meme/Facebook page that first went viral in June of this year has culminated in a real, live gathering of people outside of the infamous military base in Nevada, and now we get to see what happens when a 21-year-old’s “shitpost” becomes a cultural phenomenon. The result: A kind of lame version of Burning Man with a lot of alien masks and people selling merch.

But at least we get to watch this guy Naruto run toward absolutely nothing behind a KTNV newscaster….

According to Reuters, the call to storm Area 51 has resulted in a gathering of—wait for it—dozens of alien-seekers around the heavily guarded gates of the secretive base. Yes, there are dozens of them. Dozens! Although to be fair, some pictures from Twitter seem to indicate at least a few hundred people in attendance.

For those who haven’t bothered to investigate the origins of this meme-raid (adults with lives), it’s the brain baby of 21-year-old college student, Matty Roberts. Roberts, who lives at home with his folks in Bakersfield, California, is described by Vox as “a long-haired, laid-back bro” who’s into spending “a lot of time online in anime and video gaming communities.” Roberts, who also has a penchant for posting goofy memes, began the Storm Area 51 They Can’t Stop All of Us meme on a lark, but once he set up a Facebook page for the theoretical act of civilian defiance, it quickly gained more than a million sign-ons.

As of this writing, the “Official Alienstock Tour” page, which is now basically the face of the movement, has roughly 2.1 million people interested in going. But again, when it came to game time, only a few dozen, or perhaps a few hundred, people showed up.

Which leads us to where we are right now: in the midst of the raid, the meme, the phenomenon, the attempt to find the truth that’s out there! And aside from those few dozen people, who, very thankfully, didn’t actually attempt to storm Area 51, what are we looking at? People hawking T-shirts, folks dressed up in gimmicky alien garb, and that one guy Naruto running behind a newscaster. As for Roberts, he put on his Alienstock show the night prior to the Storm event, which attracted, according to one twitter poll (with 118,347 votes as of this writing), around 1,000 to 5,000 people. Although from pictures online, even 1,000 seems generous.

So what can we learn from this experience? Perhaps that a “shitpost” isn’t a great way to start any kind of serious cultural movement. Perhaps that storming a heavily guarded military base isn’t the brightest idea ever. But also, perhaps, that one young person can encourage millions of people to rally to a cause—just imagine if the cause was meaningful. How many people would’ve shown up then?

What do you think of the turnout for the Storm Area 51 raid? Did you expect this kind of real-life response all along or did you truly believe that this could’ve been a revelatory moment in world history? Storm the comments section below with your opinions!

Feature image: KTNV