Alanis Morissette's back in the spotlight
Record-breaking singer is pushing a new album and playing God in the upcoming flick ''Dogma.''
”How ’bout remembering your divinity,” indeed.
”Alanis is God!” proclaim banners being hoisted above Broadway by a cluster of worshipful teens who’ve marooned themselves on a traffic island in New York City’s Times Square. They may or may not be aware they’re borrowing a motto from some Brits who similarly anointed Eric Clapton in a graffiti spree three decades ago. They do, in any case, mean to celebrate the casting of the divine Miss M in the film Dogma, an upcoming religious satire in which Alanis Morissette gets in touch with her divine nature — as a line from her current hit, ”Thank U,” advises — by, yes, actually portraying the big G on the big screen.
A few stories above, the object of their veneration is visible through the MTV studio’s window on the world. She’s sitting cross-legged on a couch before a small roomful of yet more worshipful teens, looking ready to conduct yoga class, radiating such a tranquil presence you can almost imagine her laying hands on Jesse Camp and unleashing his please-shut-up chakras. Instead, she’s on live TV being interviewed by veejay Carson Daly, who also has Dogma director Kevin Smith on the speakerphone. How, Daly wonders, did the auteur responsible for Chasing Amy and Clerks come to cast the supreme female rock star of the ’90s as the Supreme Being in a Miramax movie? The disembodied voice goes straight for the punchline: ”Typecasting.” Morissette laughs sheepishly…but, like Christ standing in the court before Pilate, refutes it not.
Talking with EW later, Smith sounds so smitten you might wonder whether he was even kidding. ”It’s kind of hard not to fall in love with her,” he evangelizes. ”She just has a serene presence about her, such a calming effect on everything and everyone. A lot of people have a lot of special skills, but she is the single most unique person I’ve ever met. Truthfully, I usually kind of downplay everything surrounding my work, for fear something won’t live up to my expectations — but Alanis, she’s the closest thing to the divine here on earth.”
But there’s a bigger, less messianic burden being placed on the 24-year-old Morissette’s silken shoulders. In a time when it seems not a single rock act of consequence can replicate, commercially or critically, their biggest successes (check those diminishing returns from Pearl Jam, the Smashing Pumpkins, U2, R.E.M., and the rest of the alt-revolution) — and with rap, kid acts, and soundtracks ruling the market — it’s now left to Morissette to prove that it is still possible to sustain a thriving career in rock & roll beyond one album. Which is to say, a music industry in stasis looks to her for…well, if not salvation, at least a sign.
So, on the heels of the best-selling long play of the decade, 1995’s Jagged Little Pill (28 million worldwide and counting, 16 million of those certified in the U.S.), her new release, Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie (on sale Nov. 3), is regarded in some circles as nothing less than a possible you-know-Who-send. But can even God herself ward off the sophomore jinx?