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The Disneyfication of Joy Division

Graphic Design

Posted by Emma Tucker, 24 January 2012, 13:40    Permalink    Comments (16)

Joy Division and Disney aren't the most obvious combination, but as it turns out, it looks like Mickey might be a fan of the band too. Listed on the Disney online store as a 'Waves Mickey Mouse tee for Adults', Disney appear to have referenced the artwork for Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures album, and turned it into a set of mouse ears.

The T-shirt, which has now sold out, is described by Disney as incorporating "Mickey's image within the graphic of the pulse of a star. That's appropriate given few stars have made bigger waves than Mickey."

Whilst Disney is half right here – the graphic depicts pulses from the first pulsar to have been discovered – there is no mention of Joy Division. The original listing details appear to have been amended however – when Pitchfork reported the story, they described the listing as including the line  "inspired by the iconic sleeve of Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures album".

Since this post, the listing appears to have been changed, removing all mention of the band.

The Unknown Pleasures artwork was designed by Peter Saville, who himself, of course, borrowed the image from The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Astronomy (indeed Saville has a history of referencing existing works in his music sleeve design).

Saville came across the image via Joy Division's drummer Stephen Morris. The image originally used black lines on a white background, but Saville reversed this to create the final artwork.

There's a post over here that delves further into the more detailed background of the image, and the issue of copyright.

Pitchfork have reacted to this with horror, commenting, "Does Disney know that the singer of this band hanged himself?!" and "Do they know where the name Joy Division comes from?"

We'd like to know what other iconic covers Disney plans to mouse-ify.


Disney have now removed the teeshirt from their website, in order to 'review the situation further'. If you'd still like one for yourself, they're going on Ebay for anything between $24 and $200.


I feel sick just thinking about this and as a result would need to chastise that model for all eternity...
2012-01-24 13:48:32

Vole Will Tear Us Apart ...
tim sinclair
2012-01-24 13:53:13

Imitation is the sincerest of flattery,

but seriously...WTF !!!
2012-01-24 14:26:33

It could be perceived as progressive in the way Disney markets itself to an adult audience but seems to discard the significant associations its has with the band and their turbulent and ultimately sad history. This is nothing more than corporate opportunism.
Richard Baird
2012-01-24 14:38:48

What on earth are you talking about?

I'm all for a critical eye, but this is a complete non-story.

You could be reporting on the genuine ripping off of artists, illustrators and designers that goes on every day, but instead choose to run this 'oh the big bad corporation is so unoriginal, how dare it besmirch an icon of my youth' bullshit when the Disney design differs far more from its source material than the Saville design.

There's enough in the world to get genuinely wound-up over, you don't need to invent things.
2012-01-24 14:42:03

Stukas over Disney Land!
2012-01-24 14:46:33


I really don't see how Emma's post suggests she's particularly 'wound up' about this, unlike your own comment. As for the 'corporation vs youth' angle; she wasn't even born when Ian Curtis died (so don't presume it's one of us oldies writing the story). In fact, as I type this, the story is now on Radio 6, so it seems she picked up on something (however trivial) that has some wider interest to people.
CR Mark Sinclair
2012-01-24 14:53:00

Trivial is beyond an understatement.

It's such an unbelievably facile story, I can't believe anybody has noticed it, let alone deemd it worth reporting on.
2012-01-24 15:18:20

You've commented on it twice though ;)
2012-01-24 16:03:55

this is much better
2012-01-24 17:11:07

That's surely taking the mickey...

(sorry but someone had to put it)
2012-01-24 17:44:59

Inspired by this story, we thought we might see what Disney would do with other album covers. Why stop at Joy Division when there's a whole world of classic albums to degrade. We put a couple of quick ones up here:
2012-01-24 17:46:45

This collaboration is certainly unexpected and has confused a number of people.

As stated in the article it would appear Disney don't know the meaning of the "Joy Division" name, but unless your an avid fan of Joy Division or a historian your probably not going to know the meaning.
2012-01-25 08:53:09

I dont get what all the fuss is about...Peter Saville lifted it from a book anyway?

I would be more insulted by the cheese ball model they have put in the shirt

2012-01-25 12:24:38

To be honest, considering the history of designers and illustrators using disney imagery to great effect it's not really that bad. Especially with Saville borrowing the design in the first place. It's just a ridiculous combination. The whole origin of Joy Division and Walt's dubious past don't really gel (or, well, gel too much). Poor understanding of the idea behind the ideas.

Still, looks way nice. I'd have bought one.
Matt S
2012-01-25 23:31:33

atrocity exhibit
2012-01-26 17:25:42

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