In the new HBO Max doc, this former teen pop singer was only 21 when Jagged Little Pill topped international charts in 1995, powered by hits like “You Oughta Know,” “Hand in My Pocket,” “Ironic,” and more. Today they are feminist anthems and the basis of hit a Broadway musical. However, its screen debut was not without controversy. Shortly after the Toronto International Film Festival debut this fall, Morissette notoriously spoke out against director Alison Klayman. Klayman is a self-proclaimed ginormous fan of the singer, but apparently the feeling is not mutual, “I was lulled into a false sense of security and their salacious agenda became apparent immediately upon my seeing the first cut of the film,” Morissette said. “This was not the story I agreed to tell.” She went on to accuse Jagged of including “implications and facts that are simply not true,” although it did not specify what those implications are.
Anywhoo, while they are sussing out the details of being up in their feelings, the filmmaker’s sensitive interviewing style allowed Morissette the space to reflect on her journey from Ottawa to Hollywood and around the world. Bringing the added perspectives of her male band members, whom she toured and bonded with in the midst of rocking out before massive crowds from one city to another was simultaneously enlightening and heartbreaking. As a fan of music docs, I must admit that some serve as purely a nostalgia trip. This one, however, transports the audience to that moment you first heard Morissette and goes a teeny step further offering a woman’s perspective on reaching massive heights in the music business while shielding what was lurking underneath.
Being body shamed into an eating disorder, struggling with record company desires vs what rings true in your heart, being held at gunpoint and making history as an unapologetic woman who didn’t wait for a culture to listen is just the tip of the iceberg of an artist whose entire life and career was like having fame under a rock.
What resonated strongest for me is that there was no mention regarding the scope of her fans who are not limited to white women. It would have been nice to hear from some of my Latina, Asian, POC, LGBTQ and Trans sistas’ – after all music really is a universal language with a message that stretches far and wide.
At the end of the day, Jagged will leave a whole new generation of women artists inspired and educated to be just a little more savvy while navigating the shark waters of an industry that still struggles to view and treat women as equal. Who better to pass that message along than the original badass creator of the “F-off” song – “You Outta Know” – my girl Alanis Morissette.