It’s all fun and games until you accidentally incite a giant mob to raid a top-secret military base.
The internet has been buzzing with excitement about a Facebook event entitled, “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us,” with 1.6 million people having clicked “Going” and another 1.2 million have indicating they’re “Interested” on the event page.
Hitherto cloaked in mystery, the 20-year-old Bakersfield college student behind the legend has stepped forward.
On June 27, Matty Roberts created the Facebook page as a joke, not realizing that millions would rally behind his battle cry to “see them aliens” at the Air Force facility in Nevada.
Most, but not all, knew the desert congregation scheduled for Sept. 20 was in jest, as the page included instructions such as “If we naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets. Let’s see them aliens.” (For the uninitiated, “naruto run” is a reference to a type of running in a popular anime show.)
“Please don’t,” Roberts told Bakersfield station KERO. “I don’t want anybody to actually get hurt with this. It started out as just a pure stroke of imagination.”
Roberts says he’s been in contact with motels near Area 51 who say they’re already booked up for the event’s dates, and he’s “kind of worried about” a few die-hard extremists he’s heard from.
“I’ve had a couple people DM the page where they’re like, ‘I’m willing to die for the government. Let’s do this,’ “ he said. “If there’s only like two of those guys out there I think we’ll be OK.”
The college student said he’s a bit surprised he hasn’t heard from the FBI by now.
“I figured that the FBI would be knocking on my door right about now. But nobody has shown up, nobody has tried to contact me, nobody has messaged the page. It’s interesting for sure.”
But now that he’s gotten so many people behind one event, Roberts says he still plans to capitalize on the opportunity. He hopes to turn the gathering into a festival with live music and art installations that will be an educational place where people can meet new friends.
“I want to have a bunch of music artists, everybody from the EDM world and then maybe some indie rock,” Roberts said. “Maybe some smaller guys that are up-and-coming. I’ve had a lot of people DM the page, say their bands wants to play there, which would be super cool.”
Roberts told KLAS in Las Vegas he came up with the idea for the meme page after podcaster Joe Rogan interviewed Area 51 whistleblower Bob Lazar and filmmaker Jeremy Corbell. Lazar claims that he worked with an alien spacecraft while he was employed in one of Area 51’s underground facilities.
Before coming out to KLAS, Roberts communicated with NPR via Facebook messenger under the pseudonym Val.
“I just thought it would be a funny idea for the meme page,” he wrote.
Roberts/Val also said that, although he doubted he’d have an actual army gathered to run into Area 51 this September, he’d been in touch “with some pretty great people” to plan a safer, yet still out-of-this-world desert event.
For its part, the Air Force told the Washington Post that Area 51 is an “open training range for the U.S. Air Force, and we would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train American armed forces.”