Jewish Journal

Not Another Token Jew

by Naomi Pfefferman

Posted on Dec. 20, 2001 at 7:00 pm

Michael Bender and Mia Kirschner admit there's no Jewish archetype in Joel Gallen's "Not Another Teen Movie" -- a "nasty and frequently hilarious assault on 20 years' worth of youth pictures," according to The New York Times. "The 'Jewish kid' isn't really a character that's consistently come up in teen movies," says Bender, one of the writers and co-producers of the comedy which does to teen movies what "Scary Movie" did to the horror genre. Maybe that's why the football team in the film's fictional John Hughes High is called the Wasps, suggests Kirschner, who plays the school's "Cruelest Girl" (a spoof of the film, "Cruel Intentions").

During a joint interview, Bender and Kirschner, both 26, say they became fast friends on the set, but were opposite Jewish types in high school. Bender -- who belonged to a preppy clique called "The Plaid Boys" at his mostly Italian school in New Jersey -- was the "Token Jewish Guy." And Toronto-bred Kirschner -- often kicked out of class for her defiant behavior -- was the "not-so-nice Jewish girl." (She's since played a dominatrix in the 1993 dark comedy "Love & Human Remains," and a sexy vixen on the Fox drama, "24.")

Yet Kirschner and Bender have also defied their own "types." The preppy Bender went on to write naughty skits for the MTV Movie Awards. And Kirschner, the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, studied Dostoyevsky at McGill University and enjoys talking politics with her dad, a Middle East analyst for the Canadian Jewish News.

As for how their families will respond to "Teen Movie," called gratuitously raunchy in at least one negative review: "You don't want to be sitting next to your parents watching a sexual film, let alone one you're starring in," Kirschner says.

"The movie really shocked my dad," Bender confides. "And Mia's stuff shocked him the most."

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