Every time it seems “Steamed Hams”—a classic Simpsons bit turned constant presence in online life—has reached its peak, it continues to morph into new, ever more ludicrous forms. Over a year ago, with all the unchecked naïveté of youth, we called one, Goldblum-featuring instance of the meme its zenith, believing that the Smash Mouth mash-ups, musical remixes, and input from the scene’s writers that came before it had already propelled the whole thing toward its breaking point. We were wrong. “Steamed Hams” continues ever onward, unchecked by the natural lifespan of the typical internet joke, constantly evolving to fit the shape of whatever new format it encounters.
The latest example of this combines the madness of “Steamed Hams” meme-makers with the kind of people who obsessively design Super Mario Maker 2 levels to create something that feels as inevitable as it does shocking: “Steamed Hams” as a Mario level.
Courtesy of @JFreshSplat, the course is a block-by-block rendering of Skinner presenting his plate of piping-hot hams to Superintendent Chalmers. Their faces made up of question mark boxes, the burger meat constructed of breakable brown boxes, this custom-made tableau may now be downloaded by players eager to explore its absurd geometry. It doesn’t look challenging in terms of navigation or enemies, but does present a level of intellectual difficulty for anyone hoping to unpack the nuances of modern culture represented in a still image showing its design.
In the time since it was posted, the level has been generating responses that are exactly what you’d expect:
These replies are created nearly as quickly as “Steam Hams” itself spreads throughout our world. They are almost instinctual, providing a safe framework to make light of—and comprehend—a bizarre facet of our culture that is intent on propagating to every medium yet created and those still to come. In order to grapple with the enormity of “Steamed Hams,” we must look it dead in the eye. To that end, the “Steamed Hams” interactive experience is perhaps the best tool possible for meditating on the phenomenon up close, Mario as the Virgil leading us through the metaphysical depths and heights of a meme set to mark one of our species’ great cultural legacies. Clear your mind and check out @JFreshSplat’s level in Super Mario Maker 2 for yourself with the ID code 2WN-XWF-W8G.
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