Area 51

Tagged: Theme

Area 51 is a United States Air Force base in Nevada, the existence of which was not formally acknowledged by the US Government until 1995. This secrecy and the classified nature of the base's work have made it a magnet for Paranoia-fraught conspiracy theories, the most popular of which relate to UFOs and Aliens (often linked to the supposed crashed Spaceship recovered near Roswell, New Mexico in 1947). However, a range of other unlikely theories have also been attached to the base, including Weather Control, exotic Weapons, Time Travel and Matter Transmission.

The modern Mythology that has sprung up around the base has made its way into both popular culture and science fiction. This is perhaps best exemplified by the Television conspiracy drama The X-Files (1993-2002), which revels in a justified Paranoia: the shadowy Men in Black – as brought to the large screen in Men in Black (1997) – really are hiding something from us. Although only one episode, "Dreamland", is explicitly set on the base, Area 51 is a useful shorthand for this blend of contemporary alien folklore. The huge success of the programme inspired many pale imitations, including a Young Adult version directly linked to the area, Roswell (1999-2002). The base has also made appearances in {AMERICAN DAD}, Doctor Who, Eureka and Stargate SG-1.

References in science fiction Cinema are likewise are not uncommon, notably in Independence Day (1996) and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008). The term has become so familiar that it could be Parodied on multiple levels in Children's SF film Planet 51 (2009). A film actually called Area 51 is scheduled for release in 2013. It is perhaps surprising that no filmmaker appropriated the name sooner: an arcade game did so in 1995, Bob Mayer used the title for his novel Area 51 (1997) and a Videogame called Area 51 (see First Person Shooter) was released in 2005. [ML]

see also: Carl Huberman; Media Landscape; Urban Legends.

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