So I watched Crazy Rich Asians online and came away thinking: billionaire rom-com with Asian-American characteristics. If you like billionaire fantasies and think money grows on Chinese trees, its a fun escape with a light-hearted soundtrack. However, if you know some of the soundtrack references, a bit of cultural dissonance threads uneasily throughout. The one song that I found particularly disconcerting was the use of Sally Yeh’s “200 Degrees,” a canto-pop interpretation of Material Girl, which was played during a shopping scene. These two songs have the same tune but actually locate female agency in different spaces. Madonna embraced pay as you go sexuality–“Only men who save their pennies make my rainy day…,” while Sally Yeh seemed more interested in celebrating female sexuality– “If you want to hold me tightly, love replaces words…” Anyway, today’s takeaway is a question: is the difference between Madonna’s cheerful cynicism about sex and Sally Yeh’s cheerful sincerity about love the difference between a failed and successful rom-com?
Madonna’s version of the song didn’t fit the movie precisely because Rachel Chu isn’t a material girl. As the massive romantic fiction market teaches us, it doesn’t pay to be cynical about love. At any rate, check out Madonna (1986) and Sally Ye’s (1985) live performances of Material Girl and 200 Degrees. FYI, the Sally Yeh version is during an awards ceremony and follows the introduction to the song.