One surefire way you can tell a joke has gone too far: when the FBI turn up at your door.
What else do you expect to happen when you’re the person behind a global commitment to raid, arguably, the most confidential area in the world?
Well, that’s what’s happened to Matty Roberts, who captured the internet’s imagination with the viral Facebook event ‘Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us‘ – which two million people have signed on to attend, and an additional 1.5 million have logged that they’re interested.
Check out the KTNV Channel 13 Las Vegas report below:
The description of the event reads:
We will all meet up in Rural Nevada and coordinate our parties. If we Naruto run, we can move faster than their bullets. Lets see them aliens.
Cue Ron Burgundy saying: ‘Boy, that escalated quickly.’ The laughs started to dry up as officials addressed their concerns: first of all, United States Air Force spokeswoman Laura McAndrews said: ‘[Area 51] is an open training range for the US Air Force, and we would discourage anyone from trying to come into the area where we train American armed forces. The US Air Force always stands ready to protect America and its assets.’
Then, the FBI turned up. Roberts said he got a call from his mum telling him they were there, and, naturally, he was scared.
As reported by ABC15, Roberts said:
I was kind of scared at this point, but they were super cool and wanted to make sure that I wasn’t an actual terrorist making pipe bombs in the living room.
Roberts explained that the FBI wanted to check he wasn’t receiving death threats and that nobody is trying to radicalise the event.
As would-be attendees entered the millions, Roberts panicked when Facebook removed the event for violating its community standards. He had created a separate event for an Area 51 festival, but couldn’t divert people’s attention to the other (more sensible) option – thankfully, Facebook reinstated the page.
I was kind of scared, because I am trying to advocate people to go to safer options and then I lost the platform to do that. As far as Facebook goes, I just want to thank them for putting the event back up. So that way, we do have that organization to point people about the safer option.
The newly restored page has a link to the website which has more information about the festival and there’s even Naruto running-related merchandise for the truly dedicated followers to get their hands on.
The website explains:
We’re meeting in the town of Rachel, NV- the closest town to Area 51! We travelled out into the desert to speak directly with land-owners about creating an event for people to celebrate the unnatural… they’re totally on board!
‘They’ can’t stop us all from meeting out there… lets have fun! Music, camping and arts will occur over the weekend until Sunday – we hope to see you there!
Roberts is coordinating with local business owners to try and ensure the event is as safe as possible – but one thing he wants to make clear is that he’s not in it to make a profit.
Profits would be fun, but I don’t want to be seen as a profit-driven guy. I don’t care about the money aspect; I never intended for this to become a real thing. Now, I want to make it fun, and I think just capitalizing on it and making a ton of money just ruins the idea of the grassroots idea of it.
It’s insane, and I just created a joke while I was playing video games and it has taken off to this wild monster. I want to make this something as a positive, enjoyable, safe, and profitable for the rural area of Nevada.
Area 51 is the common name of a highly-classified air force facility in Nevada, US. It is a popular speculation that the base contains information regarding extraterrestrials – whether it be files on UFOs, or aliens themselves.
The surrounding area is chock-a-block with hotel bookings, so if you’re planning on attending the festival, camping may be your best option.
Only time will tell whether any particularly keen (and moronic) alien hunters will try the impossible and actually head into Area 51.
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After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BCTJ-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He’s now left his Scottish homelands and took up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.