What’s the deal with Area 51 and all of these alien memes?

Story by CBC Kids News • 2019-07-18 16:35

A viral event about a secretive U.S. base has prompted a flood of memes

If you've spent any time on the internet lately, you've probably noticed more people than usual talking about aliens.

That's because of a viral Facebook event called "Storm Area 51, they can't stop all of us," which suggests people meet at the "Area 51 Alien Center tourist attraction" on Sept. 20.

"If we naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets. Lets see them aliens," reads the event's description, referring to a Japanese Manga character who runs with his hands stretched out behind him.

So far, more than 1.6 million people have clicked to say they are attending the event.

Meanwhile, the popularity of the event has prompted a flood of memes

But what exactly is Area 51?

For starters, it's definitely not a tourist attraction.

Area 51 is a highly secretive United States Air Force facility in Nevada, in the southern U.S.

The U.S. Air Force says it uses the 2.9 million-acre area for training and testing purposes.

Over the years, it has come to be associated in pop culture with research on UFOs carried out by the air force in the 1940s, '50s and '60s.

That project, known as Project Blue Book, was actually based out of a facility in Ohio, far away from Area 51.

But that hasn't stopped internet users from declaring their plans to raid Area 51, either to simply discover the truth about aliens or to set them free.

Of course, the Air Force has encouraged people to reconsider.

A spokesperson told the Washington Post that "we would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train American armed forces," and that attempting to cross into such an area is illegal and dangerous.

The event's creator, Jackson Barnes, also wrote a post on the Facebook page that suggests he's less than serious about the idea.

"P.S. Hello US government," he wrote. "This is a joke, and I do not actually intend to go ahead with this plan. I just thought it would be funny and get me some thumbsy uppies on the internet."

So maybe people's excitement about Area 51 is best directed toward looking at the memes — and good thing there's a lot to choose from.

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