• Ge You filed 544 lawsuits against various companies for using his character in promotional content
  • The character in question is from the popular Chinese sitcom "I Love My Family"
  • Named Ji Chunsheng, the character is known for lying on a couch all day

Ge You, a veteran Chinese actor, has garnered widespread online attention for making more than a million dollars by just "lying flat," which is a reference to a popular character he played in a Chinese sitcom.

Ge reportedly earned compensation amounting to US$ 1.1 million (7.59 million yuan) by winning 542 out of the 544 lawsuits he had filed over rights to the famous "tang ping" TV character.

The phrase "tang ping," which literally translates to "lying flat," is used to refer to an individual's passive, ambitionless outlook toward life. This is the most character-defining trait of Ge's role, Ji Chunsheng, in the Chinese sitcom "I Love My Family," according to South China Morning Post (SCMP).

In the iconic sitcom, a lazy and deadbeat Ji lies on a couch at the protagonists' house all day. The freeloader also refuses to leave when the show's other characters ask him to, as per Insider.

The character's image of being glued horizontally to the couch eventually became a viral meme. And starting in 2016, the posture has been given nicknames like "Ge You Tang" or "Ge You Lying" which are said to encapsulate the feeling of being content with a lackluster life free of pressures. "Ge You Tang" also became a phrase so popular that people began using it to describe someone slouching on a couch.

Many brands latched onto the success of Ge's meme and used his character in online promotions without his consent. In response, the actor filed lawsuits against these firms.

He ended up winning 542 of them, forcing the losing companies to apologize and offer compensation of thousands to tens of thousands of yuan to Ge.

Among these firms is an excavator company that used the actor's meme in promoting its products by saying people can "make money while lying flat." Another company that used the "Ge You Tang" reference is a Chinese traditional massage shop, which said people could prevent the harmful effects of "Ge You slouching" with their massage services. An automobile company also advertised their back seats by using the meme and saying people could "lie flat," according to SCMP.

Social media users commented on Ge's legal victories and said he was "making money while lying flat," much like his popular character in the sitcom.

"Now this is how you lie flat and make money," one social media user wrote, as per Insider, while another remarked, "Lying flat and making money still belongs to Big Uncle Ge!"

"It is common sense that you can't make profits from other people's portraits without consent. Big daddy Ge shows you what is the real 'Ge You-esque slouching'," another commented, according to the outlet.

Beijing-born Ge debuted onscreen in the 1980s and became a household name by the following decade. He has appeared in well-acclaimed Chinese films like "To Live," "Let the Bullets Fly" and "The Dream Factory." He also won the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1994.

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Representational image (Source: Pixabay / sergeitokmakov) Pixabay / sergeitokmakov