The famous Beijing figure isn’t pleased with the use of his image by a popular travel site.
Veteran actor Ge You is suing a travel website for using an infamous meme that features the Beijing-native slouching on a couch.
Ge has demanded that elong.com pull down the photo, apologize, and pay him RMB 400,000 ($58,000) in compensation, according to the Beijing Youth Daily.
The inelegant photo of Ge is from I Love My Family, a two-decade-old TV comedy he acted in that shows him emaciated and so recumbent he’s nearly lying flat.
When the image resurfaced earlier this year it was dubbed the “the Beijing slouch” (北京瘫) and promptly went viral.
Chinese social media users gleefully photoshopped the couch potato photo into various memes that captured a kind of nihilistic slacker ethos that somehow also has a distinctly Beijing flavor.
Weibo users have noted that the half-sitting, half-reclining pose where it appears just below the neck are the legs is most popular amongst Beijingers.
Some of the more famous variation include the captions “I don’t want to do anything …” and “Wasting my life.”
Ge’s case has already been accepted by the Haidian District court, which will soon deliberate on whether elong.com’s use of the image on Weibo is allowed.
The actor is reportedly concerned that Weibo users may mistakenly believe he has endorsed the website or has some sort of cooperation with it.
On Wednesday, the website apologized to Ge on Weibo but immediately undercut their message by including another quote from one of the actor’s roles.
It’s hard to miss the face of Ge You on Beijing streets, where he has long been the go-to ambassador for brands as diverse as Alipay, Ping An Insurance, and Jinliufu baijiu. Ge is likely best known to Western audiences for his performance in Zhang Yimou’s To Live, for which he won Best Actor at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival.
Almost a decade ago the actor faced a PR crisis when a company he was a spokesperson for was caught up in Beijing’s biggest-ever pyramid scheme.
The meme probably hasn’t helped dispel memories of that incident. After all, Ge’s character in I Love My Family was a scam artist who tried to pass himself off as an inventor.
After the show’s family invited him into their house, he stubbornly refused to budge — just like his meme now.