Alanis Morissette’s Bravery and Genuineness

by The Cowl Editor on September 23, 2021

Arts & Entertainment

Alanis Morissette’s Bravery and Genuineness

The Artist’s Mission to Make Sure Her Truth is Told

Grace O’Connor ’22

This past week, Alanis Morissette expressed her disapproval of the documentary Jagged, which was released on Sept. 13, 2021. Jagged follows Morissette’s life from the beginning of her career in her early 20s leading up to the release of her album “Jagged Little Pill” in 1995. She has stated that she is unhappy with the finished product of the film and will not support it. 

According to The Washington Post, Morissette “agreed to participate in director Alison Klayman’s documentary under the guise that it would celebrate the 25th anniversary of her iconic album release. But in a statement issued by her publicist, Morissette said she was interviewed ‘during a very vulnerable time’ in the midst of her ‘third postpartum depression during lockdown.’” 

Morissette believes that the interviews she gave during this difficult time in her life were twisted in ways that did not depict the truth. She feels betrayed and is angry with Klayman for her “salacious agenda.” As The Washington Post explains, Morissette feels “the full impact of having trusted someone who did not warrant being trusted, not unlike many ‘stories’ and unauthorized biographies out there over the years, this one includes implications and facts that are simply not true.”

She concluded her remarks by saying that “while there is beauty and some elements of accuracy in this/my story to be sure—I ultimately won’t be supporting someone else’s reductive take on a story much too nuanced for them to ever grasp or tell.” 

Jagged goes into depth about Morissette’s experiences with sexual abuse and mental health. In the interview footage, it appears that Morissette felt liberated by talking about these experiences, as both she and the filmmakers felt she could open up to them. 

For instance, Morissette had never discussed her experiences with sexual assault in-depth in a public way prior to the documentary. In Jagged, viewers learn that the musician became a victim of sexual assault at the age of 15. 

As The Washington Post notes, Morissette’s comments in the film “mark a new moment of frankness.” The star has tended to speak in striking but impersonal terms about the issue of sexual misconduct. She told the Sunday Times last year, for instance, that “almost every woman in the music industry has been assaulted, harassed, raped. It’s ubiquitous—more in music, even than film.” Morissette hoped that the first public mention of her personal experiences with assault in Jagged would reflect the reality of the difficult situation, but this did not come to pass.

The film’s inauthentic display of Morissette’s life during this time of hardship felt demeaning to her. Klayman, however, saw the movie as a success. In a statement to The Washington Post, she said, “it was a privilege to make this film and I’m really proud of it. Hopefully there will be other opportunities in the future for [Morissette] to come to film events.” 

Klayman evidently does not see the film as a fabricated depiction of Morissette’s life, but rather as a means of creating a ripple effect, which will hopefully provoke other stars to speak up about injustices that they have faced in the entertainment industry. Whether Morissette’s comments regarding the film may reverse or enhance this ripple effect remains to be seen, but her critique of the film demonstrates her bravery, genuity, and mission to make sure that her story is truthfully told.