Tech by VICE

Way Too Much Time and Energy Went Into This VR Version of the ‘Steamed Ham’ Meme

Someone reenacted the iconic 'Simpsons' scene with Vive motion control and recorded it in High Fidelity.

by Samantha Cole
Feb 21 2018, 2:00pm

Screenshot via Vern Real on YouTube

This is the most effort anyone has ever put into shitposting Steamed Ham: Hooking your buddies up to Vive motion trackers, and creating a virtual reality scene out of the Simpsons meme.

For the uninitiated, the Steamed Ham meme originates from the Simpsons episode "22 Short Films About Springfield,” first aired on April 14, 1996. In the episode, Principal Skinner hosts Superintendent Chalmers for a luncheon, but burns the roast and tries to escape out the window to buy fast food burgers instead. In a moment of panic he called them “steamed hams,” and this 22-year-old meme was born.

Since then, Steamed Ham’s been referenced and meta-referenced beyond any already-absurdist meaning it might have originally held. YouTuber Vern Real’s VR reenactment of the scene might be the most elaborate. Vern told VR blog New World Notes that they lip-synced the dialogue and acted out the movements, captured by Vive motion trackers and recorded it in VR server High Fidelity.

The result resembles half-puppetry, half low-resolution CGI creation from, well, the mid-90s. It has an uncanny valley effect to it—there are definitely real people “in” there, somewhere—but it’s also an example of where social virtual reality could be heading. Whether or not VR is BS is yet to be seen, but fans of VR technology are still finding new ways to bridge the divide between real life and digital avatars (like we’ve seen happen with VRChat, for better or worse). Especially if it means they can steam a good ham.