I came across this Pitchfork article the other day and nearly spit out my lunch. Without reading the details of the article and only seeing the image of the shirt I guffawed uncontrollably, more than mildly in shock as to what I was seeing. Disney had paid tribute to Ian Curtis, the lead singer of Joy Division who hung himself in 1980. In a sicker twist, without looking much more into the matter, Disney had unwittingly paid tribute to the Nazis.
All of this by ape-ing the cover of their Unknown Pleasures album which was released in 1979. Once music sites started sprouting up with the glaring contradiction to Disney’s “happiest place on earth” motif, they hastily removed it from their site and stores. A representative from Disney said “As soon as we became aware there could be an issue, we pulled it from our shelves and our online store to review the situation further.”
You’d think it was a far stretch but it’s not. Do yourself a favor and if you’re too lazy to Google, just go to Netflix and check out 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE. For what it’s worth one of the greatest music films of all time. It explores the start and stabilization of punk rock and new wave from the last 70s to early 90s. It specifically centers around Tony Wilson and Factory Records, the label which he founded with the likes of Joy Division. They started as Stiff Kittens later to become Warsaw and finally Joy Division.
They took their name for the area in a concentration camp where female prisoners were forced to pleasure German soldiers. It may have seemed like a happy name to contrast from the doom and gloom of Joy Division’s music but it wasn’t so. And Disney, in a moment of “Eh, it sounds cute, let’s go ahead and make a shirt about them, the kids seem to like that music,” didn’t think to Google. See? It’s ok if you’re lazy about Googling, even the biggest companies in the world are. Once this news broke Walt Disney was reported to be rolling over in his cryogenic chamber, though he couldn’t be reached for comment.
Disney probably did enough research to know they weren’t infringing on any sort of copyright as the image on Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures album was technically something from the public domain. It’s the image of CP 1919, what is known as the first radio pulsar captured in space in 1967.
When asked about it, Peter Hook, former bassist of Joy Division remarked while speaking to NME, “From a legal point of view, the image is in the public domain, as Disney know and, in a funny way, it’s quite a compliment for a huge conglomerate like Disney to pick up on a poor little Manchester band that only existed for a couple of years, it’s quite startling. I’m amazed they’re that hard up that they need to prey on little indie bands, but I get the feeling that someone may have done it as a tongue in cheek compliment.”
He admits that over the years he’s become accustomed to bootleggers, and that as in the past he has pushed bootleggers to donate to an Epilepsy Foundation in Curtis’ name, he is now calling on Disney to do the same.
No news on whether or not Disney has any other tributes to Manchester bands in the works, but in case they’re now in the habit of Googling, perhaps they will come across this. ..
I know the Joy Division thing didn’t work out so well. Now you’ll probably move on to New Order, because by now you know that’s what happened to Joy Division after Ian Curtis committed suicide. Let me give you some insight. While it’s never been agreed upon there is the rumor that New Order took it’s name from a reference in Mein Kampf, “the new order of the Third Reich.” It’s safe to say that you’re going to have to avoid them altogether. Furthermore Happy Mondays and Stone Roses were severe drug addicts almost all the years they made great music. Needless to say I think you’re going to have to give up on this dream. Thanks for the laughs.
MeTags: Crime, Disney, Joy Division, Nazi, weird