Why did Nevada proclaim Highway 375 a landing strip for ETs and offer them safe haven iin 1996?


To accomodate Hollywood.

     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?

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