Perspective: Eliza Fletcher’s murder shows what real nightmares look like
Partisan hyperbole has never seemed more banal than in the wake of the abduction and murder of a Memphis mother of two
Eliza Fletcher’s abduction and murder in Memphis, Tennessee, is every mother’s nightmare, every father’s nightmare, every runner’s nightmare, every woman’s nightmare — except, perhaps, for Jennifer Lawrence.
In an interview with Vogue magazine that has been getting buzz all week, the “Hunger Games” actress revealed what she has nightmares about: Fox News personality Tucker Carlson.
The seemingly serious remark is unfortunate, coming as it did during a week when many of us cannot get Fletcher and her grieving family off our mind.
First reported missing by her husband last Friday, the 34-year-old mother and teacher was about 20 minutes into a 10-mile run when surveillance video captured what has been repeatedly called her “violent abduction.” She was likely dead before most of Memphis reported to work. A man who spent 20 years in prison for another abduction and was released two years ago has been charged.
He is the stuff of real nightmares.
Here is Eliza Fletcher full of joy, running in the 2022 @runDisney Half Marathon earlier this year.— JB Biunno #HeyJB (@WFLAJB) September 7, 2022
You can just see it in this photo. She loved to run.
It's heartbreaking. I was there that day at the finish line, cheering on my wife. So sad.
Rest in peace, #ElizaFletcher. pic.twitter.com/LxSkOEW99h
Just two years younger than Fletcher, Lawrence is a talented actress, and her profession seems to require the occasional provocative interview that keeps celebrities in our peripheral vision, if not top of mind. It’s a pity for her publicist that the interview emerged when it did.
If there ever were words that showed the vacuity of Hollywood — and of America’s ceaseless partisan sniping — this interview was it. Wearing a bathrobe and slippers while drinking white wine in her Beverly Hills house, Lawrence talked about seeing a therapist because of her recurring nightmares about Carlson. She said that she has no bandwidth to interact with “people who aren’t political anymore.”
“You live in the United States of America. You have to be political. It’s too dire. Politics are killing people,” she said.
Oh, to be 32, and to have a job that requires you to have a Korean body scrub with a reporter while confiding that your nightmares are about a Fox News personality.
Here’s what the rest of us are having nightmares about this week:
We’re having nightmares about people being pulled into the car of a stranger, and their last terrifying moments, and the shattered lives of their families.
We’re having nightmares about doing everything right — going to church, going to work, caring for a family, caring for other people’s children, caring for your health — and still having it all stripped away from you in the span of an hour by a violent sexual predator with no morals or conscience.
We’re having nightmares about how you can be supremely physically fit — fit enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon — but still be unable to fight off an attacker when your life depends on it.
We’re having nightmares about what other predators lurk out there unnoticed, like Fletcher’s assailant was just one week ago — biding their time, looking for the right person to walk, run or drive by.
We’re having nightmares about how our judicial system might have failed Fletcher and her family, how it might yet fail us. That seems dire.
To be fair, Lawrence’s rhetoric of fear is matched by many on the right (Carlson included). On any given day, a Glenn Beck monologue can have me looking for an underground bunker and survival food, and lately there are too many people purposefully referring to the Biden administration as a regime.
In this context, Lawrence’s remarks to Vogue about how and why she became a Democrat are just a continuation of a theme.
But in the context of Fletcher’s death, they’re cringe-worthy and show the stark difference between a nightmare in Beverly Hills and a nightmare in Memphis or Mobile or Montana.
Fletcher’s abduction and murder is the latest in a terrible stream of reminders that we live in an unsafe world full of predators — some animal, some human and some that coldly seem to be both.
Hollywood knows this on one level — much of its money comes from stories about predatory beasts and murderous villains, about the heroic and often heartbreaking struggle between good and evil. “The Hunger Games” is itself in this mold. But lately, much of Hollywood seems to believe that evil lurks not in the hearts of men, but in the hearts of conservatives.
The events in Memphis say otherwise. In fact, politics is usually absent from the scene of a crime as horrific as this. When politics do show up, it’s usually in the matter of sentencing, as in the person who wrote this week on Twitter, “Every time I convince myself that the death penalty is barbaric and uncivilized, I am proven wrong by the evil that lives among us.” There’s probably more like him this week. Just like there are more women who won’t run alone, or without carrying some kind of weapon, and more men who will pay closer attention to where their wife, girlfriend or daughters run, and when they are expected back.
There is nothing “good” that will come out of Eliza Fletcher’s death. But at least let us learn something from the bad.