Ian Curtis must've been rolling in his grave when Disney recently debuted a T-shirt design that was "inspired" by Joy Division's iconic Unknown Pleasures album cover art. Using the gloomy '80s band's distinct Peter Saville design (which is still worn on the chests of many a hipster) as a backdrop, Disney added its own iconic Mickey Mouse-head logo to the motif, much to the disdain of some Joy Division fans.
But since the tee received widespread criticism from music fans and sites, the creators of the "Happiest Place On Earth" decided to pull the sadly ironic shirt from shelves.
The shirt's listing on Disney's website, which has since been removed, once read:
"Inspired by the iconic sleeve of Joy Division's 'Unknown Pleasures' album, this Waves Mickey Mouse Tee incorporates Mickey's image within the graphic of the pulse of a star. That's appropriate given few stars have made bigger waves than Mickey!"
Informed music fans could see the immediate problems with Disney aligning itself with Joy Division, one of the more obvious issues being that the moper Manchester group's singer, Ian Curtis, committed suicide in 1980 at the tender age of 23. A family-friendly company, Disney certainly shouldn't want that kind of press. And Joy Division fans are not exactly happy-go-lucky, Radio Disney types.
What's more troubling is that the remaining members of Joy Division had no idea the shirt existed until it was out, according to former bassist Peter Hook. Hook pointed out that the album design "is in the public domain, but it's [Factory Records graphic designer] Peter Saville's idea and it's Joy Division's association that makes it popular. I think sometimes people do need look at that gray area and show enough respect or courtesy." And talk about lack of courtesy: Hook has so far been unable to get a shirt for even himself!
'Unknown Pleasures' album coverSo while Disney didn't violate any copyrights, the shirt seemed to violate the bleak, post-punk spirit of the band. The tee quickly sold out, but Disney has since erased any traces of it in its stores or online. A representative from the company 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."
This isn't the first time that Joy Division have been co-opted for fashion. NME.com points out that the design appeared on sneakers in 2007, and Ian Curtis's own image appeared in a Converse ad campaign in 2008. Not to mention the fact that actor Sam Riley, who beautifully portrayed Curtis in the lauded 2007 biopic Control, was recruited for British brand Burberry's autumn 2008 ad campaign after creative director Christopher Bailey saw the film.
Like any other controversial and unavailable garment, the T-shirt that was originally priced at $24.95 has already popped up on eBay, bidding for upwards of $250.
What are your thoughts on Disney using Joy Division's album cover--would you buy this shirt? Leave your comments below!