LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The New York Times circles back to examine what we learned from Storm Area 51, categorizing its story under “Cultural Studies” and including a subhead that announces, “No good meme goes unpunished.”
Times reporter Jessica Klein speaks to Bob Lazar, who put the attention on Area 51 30 years ago when KLAS-TV investigative reporter George Knapp interviewed him about alien spacecraft and what he had seen at the secret base. Lazar says, “The meme absolutely cheapens a serious matter.”
Klein also talks to Knapp about earlier attempts to “storm” the site.
Beyond issues of national security and shameless hucksterism for tourist dollars, the story’s thoughtful interviews with locals in Rachel, Nevada, and some of the people drawn to the desert by Matty Roberts’ Facebook event help to explain the phenomenon’s impact on real lives.
The pilgrimage to the edge of Area 51 drew people out from behind social media facades and put them face-to-face with a very serious government installation, and there was little choice other than to respect the border.
Rachel local Bob Clabaugh told the Times he calls the visitors “the aliens that came to town.”
The Times did find Laura Prater, who breached the site and was arrested, noting, “better than her getting shot, which could have easily happened to someone breaching the gates on any other day.” Prater is planning to run for president.
You can’t stop the Internet and its power to move people, and the Times looks at how Storm Area 51 could influence a couple of other events that are on similar courses.