The Washington Post

Joy Division inspired Disney shirt: The backlash

Update: Disney has pulled the shirt from stores.

The announcement that Disney had released a Mickey Mouse t-shirt inspired by the beloved post-punk Joy Division album “Unknown Pleasures” followed a predictable course of music-blog outrage: The backlash, the backlash to the backlash, and the backlash to the backlash to the backlash.

Still, they wonder: How did such an unholy marriage of Disney and Joy Division come to be?

(Screenshot, Disney)

Retailing for $24.95 on Disney’s site, the shirt carries this description: “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!”

It could be mere coincidence that the designer used the same image from the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Astronomy that Joy Division put on an album cover. The illustration represents pulses from the first-discovered pulsar.

All of Joy Division’s releases could be characterized as moody and melancholic, and it’s difficult to separate the band from the story of lead singer Ian Curtis’s depression, epilepsy and eventual suicide by hanging. It’s quite a legacy for squeaky-clean Disney to want to associate with. We’ve contacted them for comment.

The Backlash: What would Ian Curtis think? Ian Curtis is rolling in his grave, etc.

• “I’m sure Ian would have been very happy with this, you know, the bands legacy being desecrated by a company that is as far detached from Joy Division’s lyrics and messages as can be. Plus, they can’t even make a decent film anymore. Except Pixar. Pixar based Joy Division shirts anyone?” — Scott Dunn, commenter on NME

The Backlash to the Backlash: Well, maybe Ian Curtis would be OK with it because it is ironic.

• “Disney doesn’t care. Disney wants sales. People want things that do not suck. This does not suck.Want. This. Now.” — Warren Jason Street

• “Ian Curtis would love it. Because Ian Curtis would be 55 now and he’d be watching Disney films with his grandchildren. Stop whining crybabies.” — Pawel Zietek, commenter on Gothamist.

The Backlash to the Backlash to the Backlash: Oh whatever, the t-shirts are still awful.

• “I honestly have mixed feelings about this–what was great about Joy Division was that they represented a time in modern rock when a band had a great, unique sound and weren’t tainted (and by tainted, I mean commercialized) by the media world before they even had the chance to reach their full stardom potential.” — StyleCaster

• “Now if they make a shirt with Donald Duck on the cover of ’Closer,’ I’ll be all on that,” — Wesley Morgan Paraham, commenter on Stereogum., referencing the final Joy Division album.


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