|South Park episode|
|Episode no.||Season 6
|Directed by||Toni Nugnes|
|Written by||Trey Parker|
|Original air date||July 10, 2002|
"Free Hat" is episode 88 of the animated series South Park. It originally aired on July 10, 2002. When the boys find out that their favorite movies are being enhanced, re-released and ruined in the process, they form a club to "Save Films from their Directors." Their goal is to stop certain famous authors from wrecking any more of their original masterpieces. Much of the plot parodies Raiders of the Lost Ark. The episode ridicules Lucasfilm's digital altering of George Lucas' original Star Wars trilogy and Steven Spielberg's E.T.. The episode also criticizes remake movies.
Kyle, Stan, Cartman and Tweek get angry about Steven Spielberg and George Lucas' habit of altering their films with each "re-re-re-release" to make them more family-friendly or politically correct. They decide to form an organization to protect classic movies from changes. Cartman writes "Free Hat" on the advertising poster in the belief that freebies are necessary to attract people. However, the crowd mistakenly thinks the rally is to free Hat McCullough, a convicted baby killer they believe was innocent.
The crowd focuses on persuading the governor to free Hat, while the boys appear on Nightline to explain their group's motives. Steven Spielberg and George Lucas appear on the show, and when the boys mention changing Raiders of the Lost Ark, the two directors quickly decide this is a great idea. Determined to stop them, the boys sneak into Lucas' house and steal the master print for the film, but are caught by him. Lucas calls the police, and the boys attempt to convince him to turn away Spielberg. As their attempts begin to sway him, Spielberg arrives flanked by guards and Lucas relents and gives Spielberg the film. The boys are taken prisoner to be guests at the film's premiere, but Tweek escapes. At the premier is a trailer for a remastered version of South Park's pilot episode.
Back at the club, Tweek alerts everybody else to the situation at hand, but the crowd remains obsessed with Hat McCullough. Meanwhile, Spielberg and Lucas, now joined by Francis Ford Coppola, start making their way to the premiere in a convoy with the film's print enclosed in an ark being carried. Tweek ambushes the convoy wielding a bazooka and threatens to blow it up unless the boys are released. The negotiation ends when Spielberg invites Tweek to "blow it back to God," but reminds him all his life has been in pursuit of seeing a great film, and thanks to the new "effects beyond your wildest dreams" he wants to see it screened just as much as Spielberg does. Tweek pauses and is captured as he hesitates. At the premiere, Spielberg reveals his plan to destroy the original film afterwards, and the film begins. Knowing it will be horrible the boys look away while the audience watches. Parodying the climax of the actual Raiders of the Lost Ark, the altered version kills the audience. Coppola's head shrivels up, Lucas' face is melted off his skull and Spielberg's head explodes. When there is finally silence, the kids find themselves tie-free and open their eyes. Cartman observes, "That new version must've sucked balls."
Back in South Park, the boys think that they are going to be congratulated for stopping Spielberg and Lucas. However, the boys are congratulated for getting Hat released from prison instead. Despite the fact that Hat is obviously deranged and asks for a baby, the crowd cheers for him and presents him with one. As the baby tries desperately to escape Hat, Tweek looks at the now offscreen Hat and shouts, "Oh, God!," implying that Hat killed the baby. The boys say that what they did might not matter now, but will matter later. When Tweek asks what if someone else tries to change the movie, Stan answers that it is "somewhere safe. Somewhere where...nobody will ever find it." The episode ends, referencing Raiders of the Lost Ark, with a shot of an old man placing the original prints inside a box, which he then places inside a warehouse labeled "Red Cross 9/11 Relief Funds."
In the DVD commentary, the creators say that they think of classic films as art, and that art shouldn't be changed to be politically correct. Stone comes out as "officially over Star Wars." Steven Spielberg wrote to Parker and Stone, saying he felt like he had "finally arrived now that he's one of the villains of South Park." Parker said that if he had anything to do with Spielberg not editing Raiders of the Lost Ark, he was "just as proud of that as wearing a dress to the Academy Awards."
"Free Hat," along with the sixteen other episodes from South Park's sixth season, were released on a three-disc DVD set in the United States on October 11, 2005. The sets included brief audio commentaries by Parker and Stone for each episode. IGN gave the season a rating of 9/10.
- Han shot first
- The China Probrem, another episode with similar themes, where Lucas and Spielberg are also depicted and punished for their crimes against cinema.
- Parker, Trey (November 2005). South Park: The Complete Sixth Season: "Free Hat" (Audio commentary) (DVD). Paramount Home Entertainment.
- Schorn, Peter (February 26, 2009). "South Park: The Complete Sixth Season DVD Review". IGN. Retrieved January 25, 2017.