Streaming services have a school violence problem. For all the hand-wringing and anti-gun stances actors love to indulge on social media, their industry has no problem glorifying the very terror they claim to condemn. Two such cases came last week, right after the Uvalde school shooting that left twenty-one people dead, nineteen of which were schoolchildren.

On Friday May 27, three days after Uvalde, the fourth season of Stranger Things premiered on Netflix with an opening scene of mass child death, apparently at the hands of the show’s protagonist, Eleven, in a flashback. Several kids' corpses...

Streaming services have a school violence problem. For all the hand-wringing and anti-gun stances actors love to indulge on social media, their industry has no problem glorifying the very terror they claim to condemn. Two such cases came last week, right after the Uvalde school shooting that left twenty-one people dead, nineteen of which were schoolchildren.

On Friday May 27, three days after Uvalde, the fourth season of Stranger Things premiered on Netflix with an opening scene of mass child death, apparently at the hands of the show’s protagonist, Eleven, in a flashback. Several kids’ corpses lie on the floor with smears and pools of blood around them. The streaming service added a disclaimer at the beginning of the season specifically referencing the incident in Texas.

Over on Disney+, the highly anticipated and star-studded series Obi-Wan Kenobi premiered last Wednesday, with stars Ewan McGregor and Hayden Christensen returning to their roles from the Star Wars prequels. The miniseries also began with a flashback… to the attack on the Jedi temple and the murder of several “younglings,” child Jedi students. Several Storm Troopers enter a classroom and open fire on the students and the instructor, who fends off several of them with her lightsaber. Probably not the message Disney was intending to send about armed teachers in classrooms, but a message nonetheless.

No one could have anticipated that the timing of these premieres would line up with an actual school shooting — though sadly they occur all too often while kids are in class. Both sets of showrunners were seeking a visceral plot device with which to open their seasons — and they both happened to settle on a depiction of child murder. An unfortunate coincidence.

But it’s strange that Hollywood producers are willing to deploy fictional acts of school violence for shock value in their TV shows, while Hollywood stars are more than happy to lay the blame for the real thing at the doorstep of legal gun owners across the United States. Take Golden Globe winner Bette Midler, who told her Twitter followers to “come armed” as they protested the NRA conference in Houston this weekend. After the Parkland shooting in 2018, Batman actor Michael Keaton slammed “NRA/Republicans” and decried “weak disgusting cowards in Congress.” “The NRA and the GOP is complicit in every one of these horrifying shootings,” tweeted Lincoln actress Sally Field in 2018. “They are holding this nation hostage.” It should be noted that no NRA member has committed a mass shooting at a school or anywhere else.

As long as Hollywood blames people who have nothing to do with mass shootings, such as the governor of Texas, or gun laws, or Republicans, then blame should be cast on them for glorifying the same acts.

Perhaps you could argue that Stranger Things and Star Wars are simply reflecting the state of the country and the mood of their viewers. But as audiences doom-scroll the news on Twitter, they’d have reason to ask whether the big Memorial Day weekend science-fiction releases are offering the escapism that genre always promised.