Yesterday the Internet lit up with glum, sullen rage over the revelation that Disney was selling a T-shirt that filtered iconic cartoon character Mickey Mouse through the cover of Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures—an album that is just like taking a fun ride on “It’s A Small World” if that song were replaced by bleak doom-rock, all the countries were represented by Nazis raping Jewish sex slaves, and at the end everyone hangs themselves. Or, to put it in Disney’s words, “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!” Yes, appropriate is certainly the word we would use in this situation, exclamation point!
The shirt (which is now sold out) had actually been floating around for a couple of months, but everyone seems to be just now catching on—including the surviving members of Joy Division. Speaking to the L.A. Times, Hook confirmed that, to his knowledge, Disney never approached anyone from either the band or the current owners of Factory Records’ catalog. Of course, as Hook reminded MTV Hive recently, he and the rest of Joy Division/New Order aren’t exactly on speaking terms, and Bernard Sumner et al. have yet to comment. But as it turns out, Disney didn’t really need to talk to anyone: Cover designer Peter Saville lifted the image himself from the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Astronomy, and it remains in the public domain, which is where most Disney ideas come from. So Hook is content to call the shirt “very flattering,” saying he can “appreciate the irony” in Disney appropriating Joy Division in a questionably tasteful way that could be seen as cheapening the band’s legacy. Which, duh.
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