did Nevada proclaim Highway 375 a landing strip for
ETs and offer them safe haven iin 1996?
Governor Bob Miller officially dedicated Nevada’s
Highway 375 as an "Extraterrestrial Highway"
in 1996 to accommodate Twentieth Century Fox’s
publicity campaign for the July 4th opening of its movie
Independence Day. The movie studio then unveiled
a beacon on the highway near the town of Rachel, Nevada,
sent out a news release via Fox news saying it pointed
to "Area 51"–where the U.S. military
operates "a top secret alien study project,"
and brought in a busload of reporters to report on it.
In fact, there is no such military base or "Area
51", but Fox assumed it had license to stretch
the boundaries of reality for the opening of Independence
Day– a Fox movie that, not unlike the news
release, depicted "Area 51" as the U.S. government
base for alien spacecraft. So while its beacon had only
problematic navigational utility to any visitors from
alien heavens searching for "Area 51," it
had great value in luring entertainment journalists
along the now official Extraterrestrial Highway to the
putative periphery of the non-existing "Area 51."
These investigative junkets (helped along with the usual
studio-provided terrestrial gift bags) resulted in hundreds
of news stories about the alien sanctuary.
The reason that Fox went to such lengths to establish
Area 51 is that the mining of the paranoid fantasy about
government machination to conceal space invaders from
the public produces gold in the form of licensing rights
for the New Hollywood. Steven Spielberg deserves much
credit for developing the mother lode of this El Dorado
with his enormously-successful Close Encounters
of the Third Kind -- which ended with aliens exchange
the humans they have been abducting for experimental
purposes for a busload of American astronauts–
E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, which opened up
the universe of merchandise licensing, Men in Black
(in which the government not only shelters ETs but systematically
erases the memories of civilians exposed to alien visitors)
and the miniseries Taken about alien abductions
(its tag line: "Some secrets we keep. Some are
kept from us.")
Ironically, in promoting a view of governments as paternalistic
institutions that create elaborate illusions to shield
citizens from developments with which they cannot cope,
studios may be extrapolating from the strategies they
themselves use to dupe the public. What else is the
Extraterrestrial Highway but a brilliant con job?