From classic sleeve to sleeveless top: Disney draws on Joy Division
Adam Sherwin is Media Correspondent at The Independent and an award-winning writer who specialises in covering the entertainment, broadcasting, music and popular culture industries. Previously Media writer and diarist at The Times, he was a co-founder of the Beehive City media and entertainment website. As regular contributor to BBC London 94.9 Radio station, he was named Music Business writer of the year at the awards of influential music industry site Record of the Day in 2006.
Wednesday 25 January 2012
Ian Curtis made his position on consumerism fairly clear when he sang: "I've seen the products and the other world of waste, I've seen the colour of corruption deep within."
So the Joy Division singer could be turning in his grave after Disney put on sale an "official" Mickey Mouse T-shirt inspired by the band's iconic Unknown Pleasures album sleeve.
With its austere blasts of dystopian paranoia, Unknown Pleasures defined Joy Division as post-punk's prophets of gloom. Curtis committed suicide a year after its 1979 release.
Its minimalist cover, by Manchester designer Peter Saville, used a graphic of successive pulses produced by the first pulsar ever discovered, which guitarist Bernard Sumner found in The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Astronomy. Joy Division appear to have a fan in the House of Mouse, which has produced a T-shirt which manipulates the white-on-black seismic waves into another famous image, Mickey Mouse.
The Disney website said: "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!" The $25 shirt has sold out.
Peter Hook, Joy Division's bassist, told The Independent: "It's a compliment that Walt is thinking about us. I just hope they're as affable when we do our Donald Duck shirt." The remaining band members will receive no royalties from the Disney T-shirt.
Hook, who will perform the Unknown Pleasures album with his band The Light on a UK tour, added: "I've got used to a lot of 'Mickey Mouse' Joy Division T-shirts sold by bootleggers. We were never good at the financial-promotion side. Cashing [in] can be tasteless but you have to do it a little bit."
Hook suggested that Disney make a donation to the Mind mental health charity with some of the proceeds from the T-shirt sales.
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