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Area 51 Naruto run Elixir

We speak to the guy who did a Naruto run live on TV at the Area 51 raid

The ‘Storm Area 51’ raid attendee and YouTuber known as Elixir became a viral meme

“It is ‘3, 2, 1, lift-off’ tonight for space fans and conspiracy theorists alike,” says KTNV Channel 13’s Trisha Keen, in the nasal vocal tones exclusive to US news anchors. Their special report ‘Area 51 Mania’ addresses the culmination of one of the most prolific memes of 2019 thus far: the raiding of the covert military base in the Nevada desert, which originated from a Facebook event titled ‘Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us’.

The segment then cuts to alien-hunter hotspot Rachel, a town with a population of 54, which seems to have at least doubled for the morning of the raid. Investigative reporter Joe Bartels, with a pained expression, provides the tour – though 1.7 million people clicked attending on the event, it highlighted an anticlimactic smattering of RVs, portaloos, and teenagers acting ironically.

Towards the end of the uneventful roundup, a figure in a blue sweatshirt and hat sprints past, hunched forward, with arms outstretched behind: it’s a position known as the Naruto run, after the Japanese manga character Naruto Uzumaki’s style of speedy travel. 

A number of memes and cultural responses have spawned from the Area 51 raid – the Lil Nas X video, a limited edition Bud Light, and a battle plan which included an army of Kyles ‘with Monster Energy buff’. Some of the most prolific reference the Naruto run. Elixir (@elixirhere), an alien enthusiast and YouTuber, is the runner in question. Dazed asked him if he could tell us a little more about the raid and why a load of kids mobilised in the name of emancipating extraterrestrials.

“I mean, basically it was a Facebook post that went viral for quite a few months before the raid was actually scheduled to happen,” Elixir explains. “The idea was that if there were enough of us, then the government wouldn’t be able to stop everyone. I would say in the end there were like maybe 50-70 of us who actually went to Area 51 for the raid. Which out of two million isn’t a bad ratio.”

The Naruto run itself was a meme popularised long before the Area 51 raid, a kind of outcast running technique for socially compromised young people, which, to a wider extent, the Naruto franchise also stood for. 

“I was actually there for a while before the raid practicing, living in a tent outside of The Little A’Le’Inn” – Elixir

Elixir, real name Elia, continues: “With the Naruto run, you get very compact, you move very quickly, everything slows down around you, and the theory is that you can dodge bullets. I was actually there for a while before the raid practicing, living in a tent outside of The Little A’Le’Inn. I guess the theory is that the government have bullets so you need to dodge them.” It’s unclear where the line between truth and parody blurs for Elixir, but when you’re dealing with a group of young people running like anime characters into a covert military base because of a Facebook event, I guess that’s not a question much worth asking.

The actual US military guarding the base were probably the only legitimately dangerous thing about the raid, which seemed to be composed mostly of people who could generously be described as ‘zaney’. “Yeah, it was pretty intimidating at first, but they were actually really nice and handled it well. They even took photos with us,” says Elixir.

The most bizarre aspect of the Area 51 debacle, though, had to be the sexual element, epitomised by calls to ‘clap alien cheeks’. Numerous memes appeared about bringing home sexy aliens and alien girlfriends. When I put this to Elixir, our Naruto runner, he said that he would in fact not clap alien cheeks upon successful entry into Area 51. “Well, they’re more likely to be little shrimp-like things. And I wanted to get a shrimp alien for my pet fish, Mr. Fishy. So he could have a friend”. I probe a little further, asking him which is his favourite alien from film or TV – and which is the hottest. “ET is my favourite. He was on my sign: ‘Save ET from the government’, he’s got a good heart”. I ask again about hot aliens, shamelessly questing for smut, but he very earnestly says no, that if he did get in, it would be for friendship, not for the pleasures of the flesh. I sensed my journalistic integrity had momentarily faltered, and felt something probably not too dissimilar to the KTNV Channel 13 reporter stood in the cold desert, talking live over shaky video footage of empty benches and a sad, solitary Bud Light gazebo.

Memes in general tend to play on the absurd, they are a logical reaction to an increasingly illogical world, and through this they bring us joy and foster camaraderie. The instant popularity of Elixir’s Naruto run could be because it sums up all of this absurdity in one gesture. It’s a guy, sprinting like an anime character near a secret military base, past a TV news crew covering the event live at 6am. No one was ever going to get in, bar a few of the kookier raiders, actually thought they were going to get an alien. None of this should be happening, but it is. And it’s harmless and completely ridiculous, and to a lot of people that’s funny. 

This was a kind of absurdist happening which poked fun at the US government, who were forced to schedule a defence briefing about the raid, and all the other entities that responded to the viral phenomenon, like the news crews and the brands. It was one big joke from the generation who get told to study hard in school for a future that could be non-existent due to climate change, along with many other hypocritical, contradictory edicts laid down by the Boomers that hold sway over them. I ask Elixir what he thinks about all this parodic symbolism, and after a pause he says honestly: “Well, I don’t know about all that. To be honest, I was just there to get my alien.”