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In This is Spinal Tap, Rob Reiner plays a documentary filmmaker named Marty DiBergi who is wearing the same hat throughout the entire film which looks like its meant to be some sort of joke due to its alteration from the real version of the same hat.

His hat says "USS OORAL SEA OV-4B" while the real hat should say "USS CORAL SEA OV-43"

So what exactly is the joke here?

enter image description here

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    TVTropes says it was a rights issue "This is because the Navy would not allow the film to feature the USS Coral Sea's name" – Paulie_D Feb 11 '17 at 19:07
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According to http://www.spinaltap.com/atozed/TAP00578.HTM

USS Ooral Sea: Navy ship insignia on Marty DiBergi's baseball cap during filming of "This is Spinal Tap." DiBergi wanted to wear a hat that read "USS Coral Sea" but was told he would have to get permission from the Navy. To avoid this, producer Karen Murphy altered the lettering so that the blue cap read: "USS Ooral Sea, OV-48." Nigel: "I remember him walking in with that hat and thinking he was in the Navy." (DV)

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Yes, we know that the "Ooral Sea" hat was made because permission to use the real Coral Sea hat was refused.

The joke is more about the trend of (bearded) big-time directors wearing ballcaps of teams/groups that they have no affiliation with. Spielberg in particular was known for this. There are pics of him wearing Police and Navy hats from the same time period. I think he got the joke, because he mainly wears a flat cap (old man kind) or blank ballcap these days.

Spielberg Los Angeles County Sheriff Ballcap, 1988

Spielberg L.A.P.D. Ballcap, 1983

Spielberg Flat hat, 2007

Spielberg with Hanks, US Navy Ballcap, 1999

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