Something special happened in 1995 that changed the trajectory of how I saw women represented in the alternative music scene. That’s not to say that women in rock didn’t exist. I can certainly say that I have listened to my fair share of Hole, Skin of Skunk Anansie, Elastica and Luscious Jackson, to name a few. However, Alanis Morissette was a game-changer with the epic and historic success record. Little jagged pill of this year which paved the way for so many new artists and events such as Lilith Fair.
In the new HBO documentary Shredded, directed by Alison Klayman, the film examines the year of the album’s release and Morisette’s personal journey that led to her magnum opus. The 21-year-old singer-songwriter has become a musical and cultural phenomenon. Little jagged pill, an album so popular it was later developed into a Broadway musical in 2019, selling 33 million copies worldwide. This is the second best-selling album in the history of a female artist. The story behind this album was overdue for a documentary.
Shredded begins with Morissette’s origin story, told by the artist in her own words, of her childhood in Ottawa, Canada. Her parents have always supported her interest in entertainment, as she first worked as a model and actress, then found her way into the music industry.
While many childhood stories come with fractured past, Morissette was not exempt from falling victim to the entertainment industry as a teenage pop star. In a time when #MeToo was particularly absent, many young girls fell prey to older men in power and were forced to remain silent. Morissette briefly sheds light on this point by discussing her personal experiences. While she doesn’t delve into too much detail in the document or name names, she does underscore the importance of why women are often silenced in these situations. She confided in colleagues about her abuse, and this was quickly dismissed. Her point of view is that women speak out, but no one is listening.
Shredded also explores his working relationship with writer / producer Glen Ballard, which gave him the space to be creative as an artist. Ballard, also featured in the documentary, fondly talks about how much of a lyrical genius Morissette is with skillful word arrangements in songs like “Ironic”. He said, “’It’s like 10,000 spoons when all you need is a knife.’ Who thinks about that? ”
The documentary also addresses the heated controversies of Morissette’s songs, including her radio hit “You Oughta Know”.
Everyone “wanted to know” who this guy in the theater was?
To this day, Morissette remains gracious by keeping her name anonymous, but she admits that many of her exes have reached out to her assuming it was them she was talking about. Shredded portrays Morissette with brutal honesty and frankness as a woman who is not afraid to make a self-reflective critique of her past and what she has learned along the way.