The internet is a cruel place. The video that shows Dutch singer Gordon Heuckeroth making multiple racist comments to one of Holland’s Got Talent’s participants, a man of Chinese descent, has gone viral. From comments like “So much racism, it was cringeworthy.” to “What a tasteless ignorant prick.”, Gordon has become the center of controversy and ridicule worldwide. We sat down with Gordon this afternoon for his side of the story.
‘I didn’t mean it,’ Gordon sobs. ‘It was just a joke.’ The singer nervously twists the edges of his paper handkerchief and blows his nose.
‘I like Chinese people,’ he continues. ‘I like Jackie Chan and Bruce Li. George Takei.’
There is a pause and we look at Gordon’s PR manager, who turns his head and gestures his finger to his watch as a friendly reminder we only have a couple of minutes.
‘I also love Chinese food,’ Gordon adds. ‘Babi pangang, bami and rice with chicken gong bao.’
Gordon lets out a deep sigh. ‘I didn’t even say – Sambal bij? It’s what we say here in the Netherlands. It’s funny. It means if you want to have sambal with the take-away,’ Gordon laughs.
‘You know, Dutch people are very tolerant people. We joke about Turks, Moroccans, Surinamese and Chinese, everyone. Because it’s funny. Do you think the Germans or Belgians are funny? They’re not. That’s why we make fun of them as well. What can I say, we are a country with a lot of humor.’
Gordon gazes out the window and shakes his head. ‘Someone once said – With great power comes great responsibility.’
We ask if he’s referring to Spiderman, but there’s no comment.
‘I sometimes think about this beautiful saying and wonder what it means,’ he continues. ‘I think it means that people with power, you know, people like politicians, actors and singers, like me, we just attract a lot of attention. But we have to be strong. And not show our weakness to people who want our power.’
Again we look at Gordon’s PR manager but he gestures we have to wrap it up.
We ask whether he thinks there is a fine line between ignorance and racism. ‘Racism? There’s no racism. It’s fun-ny. Yesterday it was Black Pete, today it’s the Chinese. Maybe tomorrow it will be the Moroccans again. I don’t know. I just don’t understand why people didn’t get it was just a joke,’ Gordon cries out and tears roll down his cheeks.
The PR manager steps in and thanks us for our time. Gordon wipes off his tears and clears his throat. ‘By the way, did you get my name right? It’s G-O-R-D-O-N. Just Gordon, there’s no last name. It’s like Madonna. Or Cher.’
When we leave the room, Gordon makes sure we mention his new album. It’s like his old albums but with a new sound. ‘It’s very Dutch, you’ll love it.’ he assures us.