Note: This article contains descriptions of sexual assault.
Alanis Morissette said that multiple men raped her when she was a 15-year-old burgeoning pop star. The allegations come from the upcoming HBO documentary Jagged, which was viewed by The Washington Post.
“It took me years in therapy to even admit there had been any kind of victimization on my part,” she recalled. “I would always say I was consenting, and then I’d be reminded like ‘Hey, you were 15, you’re not consenting at 15.’ Now I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, they’re all pedophiles. It’s all statutory rape.’” The age of consent in Canada is 16.
While Morissette did not reveal the identities of her alleged rapists, she did accuse unnamed music industry professionals of ignoring what had happened. “I did tell a few people and it kind of fell on deaf ears,” she said. “It would usually be a stand-up, walk-out-of-the-room moment.”
As the 47-year-old songwriter tells it, advances by older men were common. To get her point across, she used the metaphor of a Dutch angle, a filmmaking technique where the camera menacingly tilts. “Almost every single person that I would work with, there would be some turning point where the camera would go Dutch angle,” she said. These moments would “either end the relationship” or “then there’d be just some big secret that we’d keep forever.”
Jagged also reveals the intense pressure she felt to stay skinny. In one disquieting anecdote, a male producer would count slices of cheese to ensure that she hadn’t eaten any, which pushed her towards a long and grueling struggle with eating disorders.
Morissette was a willing participant in Jagged, and her interviews make up the backbone of the new documentary. But since filming it, she has apparently soured on the process. Her representatives told the Post that she would not be attending the premiere when it bowed at the Toronto International Film Festival on Tuesday, September 14th. It is not clear what her objections may be. The Post called her an “enthusiastic interview subject” and said of the doc, “There is little material that could be considered critical of Morissette.”
Jagged was directed by Alison Klayman, the award-winning documentarian who is perhaps best known for taking on the Chinese government with her film about artist and dissident Ai Weiwei, 2012’s Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry. Her latest flick will air on HBO this fall.
Morissette is currently on the 25th anniversary tour of her classic album Jagged Little Pill. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster or StubHub. This fall she’ll be a judge on the competition singing show Alter Ego, and she recently appeared as Starlene the Hermit Crab in an episode of Madagascar: A Little Wild.