Catching Feelings - here's something you might not have thought about while watching the rom-com

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If you like comedy, romance and the occasional heartbreak in movies then it's the perfect opportunity to support a local film.

Kagiso Lediga produced and starred in the layered rom-com alongside Pearl Thusi and the pair take us on a journey of self-discovery, healing and a lot of laughter. Many found it hilarious. 

But it was more than that.

Here is a film that is very comedic but also tackles important issues about race, class, sex, relationships and drinking - there were times I didn't know whether to laugh or self-reflect.  

READ MORE: Mixing alcohol and energy drinks can make partying more dangerous

And the issue of alcohol consumption stood out most for me.

Here's the thing, it seemed like the characters in the movie were drinking at every opportunity. I shouldn't be surprised - it's a South African movie.

According to Kagiso Lediga the fact that the characters were consuming alcohol so heavily was no accident. In fact he says that realistically South Africa has a drinking problem and he wanted to highlight that in the movie. He says, "The easiest thing to do is to get wasted," and we see that happening quite a lot in the movie.  

In the trailer, Pearl Thusi's character Sam says to her husband, "You do realise that you've been drunk every single day..."

Watch: Catching Feelings | Official HD Trailer

This got me thinking about the alcohol consumption problem in South Africa. 

The South African government wants to pass legislation that will change the legal drinking age from 18 to 21. One of the reasons given by the Minister of Trade and Industry is that South Africa has one the highest alcohol consumption rates in the world.

Although Fact Check Africa proved that statement is not entirely true, there is some reason for concern.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) the alcohol consumption rate in South Africa seems to be limited to less than 50% of the population ages 15 years+. 

READ MORE: Alcohol is more harmful to women

In an article published in the South African Medical Journal (SAMJ) it's noted that alcohol use among the youth is 'a particular concern, given that at least half of SA's population is categorised as young people, under 35' and it increases with age for both males and females. There is also a tendency for people to engage in more harmful binge drinking patterns.

...we are drinking this much because of peer pressure and a desire to fit in..

So why are we drinking so much? The same article states the following reasons

  • peer pressure
  • a desire to fit in
  • poor home environs
  • boredom
  • ignorance of alcohol’s harms
  • the relative cheapness of alcohol products
  • ease of access to these products.

And a high unemployment rate among the youth which exacerbates the problem.

The Minister of Health has also suggested the banning of alcohol advertisements as a solution to decreasing the alcohol consumption rate. 

The argument is based on is the reduction in smoking that followed the ban on tobacco advertising. One of the principal aims of the Tobacco Products Control Amendment Act of October 2000 was to ease the pressure on young people to start a lifelong tobacco addiction at age 15 and younger.

This is a problem that exists in many countries and is not uniquely a South African problem as the minister would like us to believe. Countries such as the UK have reported their own experience of harmful drinking by youngsters.

In an interview with Channel 24, Kagiso Lediga says, "The film has typical adult themes of politics and sex but also has a touch of comedy too," so in as much as we are meant to laugh a little we should not forget to actually think about the political issues raised in the movie. 

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