Thousands of Australians tuned in to watch SBS’s seventeen-hour broadcast of The Ghan – seemingly endless footage of Australia’s outback from the perspective of the titular northbound interstate railway. For much of its audience, this was their first exposure to the ‘slow-TV’ phenomenon. For me, it was just a seventeen hour-long distraction from my round-the-clock viewership of grainy live-streams from the civil war that continues to rage in Syria.
Fans of The Ghan enjoyed the break from the intense, narrative heavy approach that has characterised recent prestige television like Game of Thrones or Top Gear. For those willing to give the same time, or perhaps hundreds of thousands of hours more, to the Syrian Civil War, they’ll find that slow-TV doesn’t have to be without narrative; in fact, the only criticism I have of the war in Syria is that there’s possibly too many narratives.
That being said, however, you’re sure to find someone to root for, whether you’re a fan of the SAF, RGC, RAF, RGF, PMF, FSA, YPG, PKK, the KPD, or literally any other organisation with a three letter abbreviated name – there’ll be a cause for you to advocate loudly for in obscure social media channels. Please do not cheer for anyone with a four-letter abbreviation.
Although the beautiful visuals of the sweeping Australian countryside may be missing from streamed footage of a literal war-zone filmed on an unbranded smartphone, if you give it the time you’ll quickly fall in love with all that the Syrian Arab Republic (name not finalised) has to offer by way of relaxing vistas and idyllic scenery. Explore the road less travelled – learn to call Homs home – all from the comfort of your own living room.
If you’re worried that you’re too late to join the party after seven full years of violence, don’t worry: this bad boy’s got enough plot escalation to rival Home and Away. Alf Stewart falling down a mineshaft is sure to play second fiddle to Turkish military operations in Afrin for this year’s Logies sweeps.
The Syrian Civil War is now streaming on very select Russian Facebook live broadcasts, and in the musty bedroom of your younger male cousin, who claims to be little too interested in ‘military technology’ for your liking. The Ghan is now streaming on SBS On Demand.
Hugh Hutchison | @ugh_hutch
Hugh wrote the entirety of our first print issue, SLOW.