Okay, I got no idea what Alanis Morissette is up to here. If she were an artist I have some respect for, I might buy that she’s offering a sobering feminist critique of the role women in popular play culture play in their own objectification. That’s certainly in line with what seems to be the consensus take, everywhere from the Ottawa Citizen to Feministe.
And the song here – well, without the video that kind of conclusion makes sense, maybe.
But the video sells that out, doesn’t it? The video – being officially billed as an April Fool’s gag – is a goof from top to bottom. So if I assume that Alanis knows what she’s doing – an assumption I never make in reality – then I have to conclude that she’s pulling some sort of double-reverse self-reflexive postmodernist undercutting of her own overly serious image, right? You know – I have fun, too, wink wink?
However, what I usually assume, based on the available evidence, is that Alanis is little more than the template for Avril Lavigne. “Angry feminist angst-rocker” is the image the label came up with that would sell records. You know, after a couple whacks at “dance diva” failed to pay off their investment.
If I take that as my starting point, then what seems to make sense is that somebody said “hey A, wouldn’t it be hysterical if you did, like, a Tori Amos hate/torch rip on ‘My Humps.’ Yeah, that would be really funny. And we could do a video and put it on YouTube and then pretend to play it off. That would be, like, viral and stuff.”
Penetrating artistry or shrewd marketeering? Stay tuned. But when they try and tell you that Morissette is the lone wolf of real feminism howling in a wilderness of product, just remember something. If you manage to lay your hands on one of her first two records (no, Virginia, Jagged Little Pill wasn’t her debut, and shame on All Music Guide for pretending otherwise) her management will send a couple of large lawyers in a black car to break your legs.
Isn’t that ironic?