Love me, hate me, know my name

Baldwin native divides YouTube users, racks up endless hits


“My Jeans,” a music video produced for Jenna Rose, a.k.a. Jenna Swerdlow or Jenna Rose Swerdlow, a 13-year old who grew up in Baldwin and attended the Meadow School before relocating to Dix Hills in 2005, had more than 8.8 million hits as the Herald went to press on Monday.

The four-minute video, posted in October, has spawned parodies, video responses, rap replies and more than a dozen pages of written critiques. Most of the attention the video has attracted, to be sure, is decidedly negative. The song did have 14,709 “likes” to its credit on Monday, but it also had 177,016 “dislikes.”

Some of the comments posted below the video are complimentary — “this song is so good,” wrote tonyrod92 — but the vast majority dismiss not only Jenna’s performance, but Jenna herself, from every imaginable angle. Her detractors take to task not just her singing, but her clothes, the shape of her mouth, the production value of her effort and even the state of the music industry.

Those who seek celebrity have always exposed themselves to the witticisms and criticisms of those they hope to entice, but unsupervised YouTube users seem to voice their opinions with a vitriol just short of a mob tossing rotten tomatoes at lackluster performers in Shakespeare’s day. Are the slings and arrows tweeted, texted and otherwise flung in Jenna’s direction too harsh for her to bear? Apparently not. In fact, she may be one of a new (or at least new-ish) breed of performer uniquely suited to stardom in an age of inexpensive digital production, promotion and distribution.

“I literally had to put Jenna into dance classes at 2 years old,” said her mother, Debbie Swerdlow. “She never stopped dancing — ever.” Jenna’s introduction to show business began at the Dickerson Performing Arts School, in a shopping center in Merrick. From there she went on to community theater, regional productions and off-Broadway shows as her mother and father, Robert, shuttled her from one rehearsal or performance to the next.

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