When their gender-reversing parody of Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” video went viral, Mod Carousel realized they’d found a perfect platform to spread their social messages. The local group—comprised of the three co-founders, The Luminous Pariah and twin brothers, Trojan Original and Paris Original—plans to launch their next video, a pro-gay rights statement, early this week. The new video covers Miley Cyrus’ “Can’t Be Tamed.” They’ve modified the lyrics a bit so the song (sung in the video by local songstress Celene Ramadan, aka Leeni) becomes an anthem for the immutability of being gay. In light of Russia’s recent anti-gay propaganda laws and the perfect storm of controversy surrounding Cyrus’ onstage escapades at the VMA’s, the video seems poised to be another hit. SeattleDances caught up with the group on the roof of a Belltown apartment for their last evening of filming to hear more about their project.
Three sets of whirling pink curls and brightly colored spandex unitards stood out in sharp relief to the evening’s menacing clouds, and the atmosphere was playful yet business-like. The troupe rehearsed their timing and chatted about the film between shots. “This was actually the first video we had wanted to make,” said Trojan. “And after all the traffic ‘Blurred’ got we realized we wanted to sneak in a positive social message to future films.” Though Mod Carousel has been a stage act since 2010, producing local shows and touring internationally on the burlesque circuit, these are their first serious forays into video. “Having positive messages in our burlesque act has been a thing we’ve been doing off and on since we started,” said Paris. “So moving to film was a really natural progression.” “Blurred” has garnered over three million hits on YouTube and appeared everywhere from The Today Show to Huffington Post, enabling it to reach a much broader audience than might see their stage shows. The transition to film is largely due to Trojan’s burgeoning interest in the medium. While he’d dabbled in photography for some time, he just recently began making videos. Now, doubling as the group’s cinematographer, he sets the shot before jumping in and dancing. “We’ve always enjoyed making videos and wanted to do more, but it’s a lot to ask a friend to [shoot one] and it’s expensive to do with a not friend,” says Luminous. “So [Trojan shooting it] was a perfect combo!”
While “Blurred Lines” made a powerful statement about sexual objectification in our society (read one of many analyses about it here), “Tamed” seems to have simpler message, if not a slightly more heavy-handed approach. In one scene the three jump into a “power pose,” each with a billowing rainbow flag draped over their arm. Paris Original summed it up nicely: “It’s just pro-gay rights, essentially.” The revised chorus where they swap “I can’t be tamed,” to alternate repetitions of “shamed,” “blamed,” and “changed,” further underscores the pro-gay rights message. The video also features shots near a Greek Orthodox Church and a set of Grecian pillars on Capitol Hill. Luminous says they are specifically evoking images of Russia and Greece to call attention to these two countries for their discriminatory stance on gay-rights.
And of course, there’s dancing. While ‘Blurred’ simply parodied the moves from Thicke’s video—mainly awkward strutting and preening—with ‘Tamed’ the group is using choreography from one of the stage shows in their repertory. The choreography was a joint effort from the three of them, and it makes good use of their extensive dance training. But besides the catchy lyrics, entertaining dance, and positive message of acceptance, the best thing about the new video, and even the ‘Blurred Lines’ parody, is that the troupe simply has fun with it. Beneath their serious social commentary is an undertone of tongue-in-cheek lightness. Perhaps this stems from their experience in the coy art of burlesque, or perhaps it’s simply their goofy personalities. And while they’re making political statements, they’re not a political group. They’re simply using what they love to do, to say things they feel need to be said. And it never hurts to throw a little glitter in the mix.