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New Zealand has quaintly taken ownership of the Tall Poppy Syndrome.
We build our achievers up with a speed as ridiculously fast as it is ridiculously loose, and then we chop them off at the knees.
Nobody in the world, we say, turns a poppy into a stem better than us. Really? I suspect other countries may disagree. I suspect these countries may have two words as their evidence: Alanis Morissette.
Alanis released an album called Jagged Little Pill in 1995 which sold 33 million copies. This has gone into all the music history books as the biggest-selling debut album of all time, even though she had released two albums before this in Canada, which in musical history terms, is obviously not considered a country.
Ever since then, Alanis Morissette, despite selling many more albums and developing an excellent acting career, has been a figure to point fingers at, a classic yesterday's lunch girl.
Thirty-three million is far too big a number of course, one has to look into a number like this. And when the critics did, they found the lyrics to her biggest song, Ironic, were a little, well, ironic. All of us know Americans have no sense of irony, and Canada is clearly not far behind when Alanis defines irony in her signature song as a black fly in chardonnay and rain on a wedding day.
Alanis was upset people had chosen to look into her lyrics in this way. The leaner years since Jagged Little Pill, she says, have been paralysis from analysis. Touche.
But her head is still being pulled above the parapet. Two weeks ago in the Sunday Star Times I read this quote from her - "I can't towel dry my hair because it'll tangle. So I put a towel on the bed then smack my head on it, like, 10 times, so all the water will drain out."
Phew! Kim Hill once asked me on her show if I didn't think pop music was a bit too . . . silly, and I replied absolutely not. But this thing Alanis is saying about drying her hair, well, I dunno. I'm thinking maybe Kim was on the money. Did Alanis really say this? Is she really this barking? I went to Google, and alas yes, she did, and is. There are even more poppy choppers on there.
"What I have to say is far more important than how long my eyelashes are."
Well, yes, couldn't agree more.
My hair was once as long as hers, and I can tell you right now, if I took a towel to it, it would tangle like a crazy thing, Lord, let those days never return. If only I had thought to smack it on a towel, like, 10 times!
"We'll love you just the way you are if you're perfect."
Subtle, an olive branch with jagged little prickles. The man who dares getting involved with Alanis Morissette - rapper MC Souleye Treadway is the current beau - is going to have his head seriously smacked down on life's towel if he really thinks just being the way he is is enough. He has to be perfect as well. Are there any perfect men? Of course not. White woman speak with cleverly forked tongue.
"A good man often appears gauche simply because he does not take advantage of the myriad mean little chances of making himself look stylish. Preferring truth to form, he is not constantly at work upon the facade of his appearance."
Food for thought this, insofar as I can understand it. Alanis is best read twice, rubbing the eye and banging the hand against the head after the first read. If she is saying dressing abominably is truth, and this is a woman who presented Canada's Juno Entertainment Awards in 2004 wearing an old bathrobe, then I am putting my hand up to roll on that towel with her right now. Because I love truth. And, dammit, I love Alanis Morissette.
• Roy Colbert is a Dunedin writer.