Singer Alanis Morissette claims in a new HBO documentary she was raped by multiple men when she was 15 years old. The film is set to premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on Tuesday in Morissette's native Canada, although the "Ironic" singer will surprisingly not be there. Morissette, 47, is reportedly distancing herself from the film for undisclosed reasons.
A source close with Morissette's plans told The Washington Post Friday that she would attend the world premiere. It is not known if she plans to do any publicity for the film when it airs on HBO this fall. The film, titled Jagged as a reference to Morissette's groundbreaking album Jagged Little Pill, was directed by Alison Klayman, who directed the acclaimed Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry and The Brink.
Jagged tracks Morissette's life from her days as a teen pop star in Canada to her transition to a Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter whose 1995 album Jagged Little Pill remains one of the best-selling albums of all time. It also highlights the darker side of the music industry, with Morissette opening up about the sexual abuse she faced as a teenager. The age of consent in Canada is now 16, but it was 14 when Morissette was a teenager. According to the law though, the age can be higher "when there is a relationship of trust, authority or dependency."
"I'm going to need some help because I never talk about this," Morissette said in the documentary before she discusses the subject, reports the Post. "It took me years in therapy to even admit there had been any kind of victimization on my part. "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.'" Morissette did not name her alleged abusers. She said she did tell people at the time, but it "kind of fell on deaf ears," adding that, "It would usually be a stand-up, walk-out-of-the-room moment."
Morissette's decision to distance herself is strange since the Post notes there is almost nothing crticial of the singer-songwriter in the film. Klayman told the Post that she did not want to speculate, but was "really proud" of the final film. "Hopefully there will be other opportunities in the future for her to come to film events," she said. HBO has also not commented on Morissette's decision.
The documentary also features segments in which Morissette criticizes the music industry and the journalists who cover it, especially those who labeled her an "angry young female" in the wake of Jagged Little Pill's release. Morissette also mentioned that her all-male band used their connection with her to attract women at shows for sex. The singer is mostly complimentary to her bandmates, but called their motivations "disrespectful," adding that it "just didn't match my mission or my value system."
Morissette also defended her decision to come forward now, 30 years after the fact. "You know a lot of people say, 'Why did that woman wait 30 years? And I'm like f— off,'" she said in the film, reports the Post. They don't wait 30 years. No one was listening or their livelihood was threatened or their family was threatened," referring to her failed attempts to tell people about the statutory rapes at the time." She added that women do not wait, adding, "Our culture doesn't listen."