Yesterday Pitchfork reported that the family-friendly Disney corporation is currently selling a t-shirt inspired by Joy Division, the post-punk band whose name derives from Nazi prostitution camps and whose depressed lead singer, Ian Curtis, committed suicide. The tee in question, which mashes up the cover art of Joy Division’s debut album Unknown Pleasures with Mickey Mouse’s familiar silhouette, is a curious amalgam — and one that probably wasn’t produced with the band’s full consent.
Asked if he had any idea that Disney and Joy Division were cuddling up in a quaint union of copyright, the band’s former bassist Peter Hook told Hive in an email message, “Not to my knowledge. Since the others don’t talk to me I wouldn’t know.” Disney’s online store says the shirt was “Created especially for Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort,” but doesn’t mention anything about the Joy Division cover, which was originally designed by Factory Records art director Peter Saville.
The shirt’s heritage aside, Hook says that his first impressions of the design were positive: “I have seen a lot of Mickey Mouse t-shirts in my time,” he wrote. “But I have to say this is probably the best.” It’s currently sold-out on Disney’s online store, but Hook is open to wearing it himself, “For a small donation to my favorite charity, the N.S.P.C.C. [National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children], of course.” And he added: “I hope that [Disney] will be as understanding when we start doing Donald Duck shirts.” Based on past Disney copyright cases, that’s not likely.