Published Jan 25, 2012Moody music lovers across the blogosphere spat up their morning coffees the other day when it was discovered Disney had released a T-shirt based on Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures artwork, which modified the pulsar motif to resemble Mickey Mouse's familiar silhouette. If you were wondering how the band feel about the nod, it seems they're divided, with member reactions ranging from deeply outraged to somewhat honoured.
Bassist Peter Hook seems to be pro-Mickey, telling the NME that considering the band themselves didn't create the image (the cover was modelled on work done by Peter Saville in the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Astronomy of the first pulsar discovered) there's really not much they can do about it. That said, he humbled that the mega-corporate enterprise was even aware of the late '70s/early '80s post-punk outfit (despite Joy Division being one of the most well-known acts to come out of their era).
"From a legal point of view, the image is in the public domain, as Disney know and, in a funny way, it's quite a compliment for a huge conglomerate like Disney to pick up on a poor little Manchester band that only existed for a couple of years. It's quite startling," he said. "I'm amazed they're that hard-up that they need to prey on little indie bands, but I get the feeling that someone may have done it as a tongue-in-cheek compliment."
Drummer Stephen Morris, meanwhile, is quite peeved at the rip, and felt that they should have been consulted on the matter.
"I was quite angry when I first saw it. No one asked us. They're trading off the band and our album cover, but get away with it by apparently saying the design was 'inspired' by us," he told the Manchester Evening News.
Despite the origin of the image, Morris feels the Mickey Mouse modification is disrespectful to the Joy Division legacy.
"I don't like the design at all. It's horrible. I can't imagine any Joy Division fans wearing it. Or anyone for that matter. Clearly, no one investigated the history of the band before coming up with this idea. It's bizarre."
Judging by Hook's comments, there likely won't be any legal action, but the bassist may consider asking Disney to pitch some profits towards an epilepsy charity, in honour of deceased frontman Ian Curtis, who suffered from the disease.
"I spend a lot of my time policing Joy Division bootlegs and normally we ask for a contribution to be made to Ian's charity for epilepsy," the four-stringer said. "So, maybe if we wanted to make Disney feel guilty we could suggest that they did that."
UPDATE: As Pitchfork points out, Disney is no longer selling its "Joy Division-inspired" T-shirt. A rep from the compy said, "As soon as we became aware there could be an issue, we pulled it from our shelves and our online store to review the situation further."