Alanis Morissette criticises ‘salacious agenda’ of HBO film about her life

The singer has spoken about about Jagged, premiering at the Toronto film festival, for its ‘reductive take’ on her life

Alanis Morissette has spoken out against a new HBO documentary about her life and its “salacious agenda” as it premieres at the Toronto film festival.

The 47-year-old singer had agreed to be interviewed for the film Jagged but has released a statement to express disappointment in how her story has been told. She said she was interviewed “during a very vulnerable time” during her third postpartum depression amid lockdown.

“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,” she wrote. “This is when I knew our visions were in fact painfully diverged. This was not the story I agreed to tell. I sit here now experiencing the full impact of having trusted someone who did not warrant being trusted.”

Morissette has refused to attend any event for the film because of her ongoing tour as well as her belief that there are problematic inaccuracies with the finished product.

“Not unlike many ‘stories’ and unauthorized biographies out there over the years, this one includes implications and facts that are simply not true,” she wrote. “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.”

During the documentary, Morissette describes multiple statutory rapes when she was a teenager.

“It took me years in therapy to even admit there had been any kind of victimisation on my part,” she says in the film. “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 paedophiles. It’s all statutory rape.’”

Before the release of the statement, director Alison Klayman spoke about the singer’s lack of appearance at the premiere and hoped that she would be involved down the line at some point.

“Of course I wish Alanis could be there,” 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 her to come to film events.”

When asked by Deadline about Morissette’s reaction to the film, Klayman said it was an understandably difficult film to watch. “It’s a really hard thing, I think, to see a movie made about yourself,” she said. “I think she’s incredibly brave and the reaction when she saw it was that … she could feel all the work, all the nuance that went into it. And again, she gave so much of her time and so much of her effort into making this and I think that the movie really speaks for itself.”

The Guardian has reached out to HBO for a response.

• Information and support for anyone affected by rape or sexual abuse issues is available from the following organisations. In the US, Rainn offers support on 800-656-4673. In the UK, Rape Crisis offers support on 0808 802 9999. In Australia, support is available at 1800Respect (1800 737 732). Other international helplines can be found at ibiblio.org/rcip/internl.html

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Benjamin Lee

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