Directed by Alison Klayman, Jagged is an absolute celebration of Alanis Morissette’s 1995 album, Jagged Little Pill. Jagged explores how Alanis started in the business, how Jagged Little Pill came to be, and the stardom that followed. But what really stood out to me were the struggles of being a woman in the music industry in the 80s and 90s.
Alanis entered the industry at a very young age. In fact, she went through puberty during the beginning of her career. As her body changed, she gained weight and was immediately called out on it by the people who worked with her. This began a massive eating disorder journey for the pre-teen star.
As she was very young at the beginning of her career, Alanis didn’t have much protection. Jagged briefly touches on her experience with older males in the business. Although she thought she was consenting in those moments, at 15, consent doesn’t exist. It was blatant statutory rape.
Executives wanted to keep Alanis in the pop princess box like she was back in her “Too Hot” days. But once she started writing her own material, it was clear that she was going in a different direction. People thought that her new image was concocted when, in fact, it was her true self coming through. A lot of people didn’t like it and it was next to impossible for her to get signed during that time.
After the release of Jagged Little Pill, Alanis was immediately labelled as “too emotional”. People didn’t understand why this young woman was so angry. In reality, women are angry and emotional. We are human, capable of complex emotions. And Jagged Little Pill was Alanis’ outlet. People got scared because they had never heard anything like Jagged Little Pill before. She touched on extremely intense and important topics, empowering other women to speak out and to become comfortable with conveying these emotions. Alanis was (and is) an extremely gifted writer, unafraid of going inside herself.
As an aside, and on a personal note, I am aware that Alanis has spoken out about her feelings on Jagged. As someone who has experienced postpartum depression, I can completely appreciate the vulnerable state that she was in during the interview process for the film. However, I want Alanis to know how much Jagged Little Pill means to her fans and how much Jagged brought us all back to that time. After watching the film, my husband and I shed a few tears as we reminisced about what songs touched us, defined us, and broke us. We feel like Jagged was a celebration of the album, but we also stand with Alanis.
Thank you for pouring your heart out and letting us in.
Jagged premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on Monday, September 13th, 2021.