The New Mass Ornament: World War Z, Crowd Simulation, and Post-Fordism

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The article investigates the representation of the zombie digital multitude in World War Z (2013) and its concurrent mode of production (MoP) as a dialectical pair for mutual illumination. In his now canonical essay “The Mass Ornament,” Siegfried Kracauer argues that the group dance of the Tiller Girls and the capitalist Ratio of its time can shed light upon each other. My article aruges that Romero's zombie horde is a dialectical reversal of the Tiller Girls and, hence, a negative mass ornament. While the zombie horde upholds an utterly visceral and chaotic collectivity, it shares similar symptoms of mechanization and dismemberment under the same Fordist MoP. Building on the idea of the zombie horde as a negative mass ornament, I argue that the zombie digital multitude in World War Z can be approached as a new mass ornament that is dialectically connected to the post-Fordist MoP, in which the production process is increasingly tied to network-like organization and globalized flexible specialization, undergirded by the digital infrastructure. Specifically, I will explore the post-Fordist ideals in the technical development of crowd simulation, the visual effects industry, and the network society, so as to understand both the zombie digital multitude and post-Fordism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-79
Number of pages27
Issue number44
StatePublished - 2020


  • labor
  • network society
  • Siegfried Kracauer
  • visual effects
  • zombie


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