Thursday, January 17, 2008

No. 327: Jagged Little Pill


Band: Jagged Little Pill
Album: Alanis Morissette
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: The fresh-faced Canadian's third album is considered a masterwork and was her certain breakthrough. The album stayed near the top of the charts for over a year.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: The album is overproduced, largely insincere and was Morissette's only real mark on culture. It came at a time when America was particularly amenable to this type of thing (angry rock), only Morissette's version had no real substance.
Best song: Oh, whatever.
Worst song: Let's say... "Ironic?" That song has nothing to do with Irony.
Is it awesome?: Nope.

You know how Whitney Houston's first record sold 13 million copies?

Well, "Jagged Little Pill" has sold 30 million units since it came out in 1994. That's mind-boggling. The album is the tenth-best selling album in history. And it's not jsut fans of the song Wesley Willis did about her. Thirty million people is, basically, the combined populations of New York state and Illinois.

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You know the song "Ironic?" Well, here's Mo Rocca's take on it:

Irony is the disparity between what you expect will happen and what does happen. So raining on your wedding day isn't ironic; it's just crappy. It would have been ironic if she had lived in a place like Seattle and traveled to the desert of Mexico for a wedding, and it ended up raining there, but not in Seattle. Alanis always gets the last laugh though. We all sit here, saying her song isn't ironic, but in fact, that's pretty ironic that she wrote a song called 'Ironic' that wasn't really ironic. Those Canadians are pretty crafty.


That is why I hate this record.

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I consider myself a feminist, but I'm also a realist. I'm a man and we, um, run almost everything. Thankfully, that's changing as more women are taking power in various roles. Hell, we may have a female president next year, which is damned cool, if you ask me (even if I'm not a Clinton supporter).

Nevertheless, I have a feeling about modern feminism and its role in what I call "fat girl logic" (one of the two best phrases I've ever coined). "Fat girl logic" doesn't just apply to fat girls, but to anyone who has unreasonable expectations for themselves in life. It's an extension of the failed dreams of suburbia (the children of suburbia were never told anything but positive things and never faced reality) on a lot of levels.

"Fat girl logic" is best summed up in a book like "He's Just Not That Into You." Ironically, the book's title belies its actual message, that women should expect to meet guys who love them and treat them well. This, of course, is absolutely true and we all should find boyfriends/girlfriends who treat us well/love us/etc.

However, here's the problem: If you combine that positive, good message with the failed dreams of suburbia (being spoiled, never being told "no," a tenuous grasp on reality, etc.), you end up with "fat girl logic." This logic posits that even though woman is unattractive, she should expect the perfect man to come forward. If said woman is unattractive, to expect Brad Pitt to come walking through that door is entirely foolish.

Look, it's not just exclusive to overweight women or to relationships. I utilize a lot of "fat girl logic" in my own love life and often have absolutely unreasonable expectations (I am not a fat girl, but actually, an unattractive man).

(At the risk of sounding like I'm invalidating my own theory, this stuff is all very nebulous. We all often date people we think wouldn't give us the time of day -- my dating fat girl logic is based on the fact that I've consistently punched above my weight in matters of love -- and I see great-looking women with ugly dudes [and vice versa].)

I don't know that "Jagged Little Pill" has a lot of "fat girl logic" on it. As my friend Ellen says, "it's angry in an I-deserve-X way." Not everyone deserves everything.

Maybe I'm being sexist, because I like that sort of song by a lot of men (and a lot of women, as evidenced by my feelings on "Exile in Guyville"). Maybe anger is more attractive on men. I don't know, but this album is obnoxious.

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You want a real album about female power, sex and anger? Check out the next album.

1 comment:

bilbo said...

"Let's say... "Ironic?" That song has nothing to do with Irony."

Ha, you are absolutely right. Never cared to think about that.

I don't always agree with your opinions but you're doing a hell of a job.

Congratulations.

Bilbo from Buenos Aires.