Home Arts & Entertainment A Review of Matthew McConaughey’s Autobiography ‘Greenlights’

A Review of Matthew McConaughey’s Autobiography ‘Greenlights’

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Photo of a McConaughey from the author's Instagram.

By Connor Lannen

“I deleted Tinder,” 21 year old, Michigan State University student, Matthew Rauch, exclaimed in the midst of a discussion about the dating app. 

“You’re single, why would you delete Tinder?” I replied.

“I read Matthew McConaughey’s new book and it made me decide to delete tinder,” Rauch said. 

I had also just read McConaughey’s autobiography, “Greenlights,” and did not immediately make the connection, the others in the conversation thought it was a preposterous proclamation. One that we were not just going to let slide by with no explanation.

“What in the hell does Matthew McConaughey’s book have to do with deleting tinder?!” another friend of mine exclaimed.

There was a part in the book where McConaughey talks about how he would get all of the girls’ attention in high school by standing in the bed of his beat-up truck and calling them over with a megaphone. McConaughey then said he traded in his truck for a cherry red sports car that he expected to only increase his popularity. 

To his surprise, he started to notice that the attention he had experienced before was nonexistent. McConaughey realized that when he got the sports car he thought it would do the work for him and he stopped putting in the effort. After coming to this realization, he went and traded the sports car back in for his truck and went back to his original hustling ways. 

This story, somehow, was the focus of Rauch’s sudden shift in attitude about dating.

“I loved that part of the book, but still do not understand what that has to do with Tinder,” I said. 

“It doesn’t have a direct connection but it made me think about how in our generation and society we have preconceived notions on so many people before we ever actually utter any words to them,” Rauch said.

Continuing to elaborate, Rauch went on to say, “If I match with a girl on tinder and then see her in one of my classes or in a social setting, she already has some preconceived notion of me before I have even really met her. The old-fashioned hustle that McConaughey talked about inspired me to want to go out and make more meaningful connections in the real world rather than portraying myself in a certain way in a digital world.”

I took a lot of different things away from “Greenlights” and after hearing Rauch’s explanation, I realized just how influential the autobiography could be. 

McConaughey is raw and honest with his audience for 304 carefully curated pages that take the reader through every chapter of his life. He toes the line between entertainment and inspiration at a masterful level.

He gives the readers behind the scenes looks at some of his celebrated film roles such as “Dallas Buyers Club” and “Dazed and Confused.” He shares stories beyond my wildest imagination. Doing peyote in a cage with a mountain lion, floating naked down the amazon river because of a dream he had, and the aforementioned sports car story are just a few of the wild tales McConaughey tells.

“We cannot fully appreciate the light without the shadows,” McConaughey writes about the risky moves he made in his life. “We have to be thrown off balance to find our footing. It’s better to jump than fall. And here I am.” 

McConaughey gives full transparency when discussing how he broke out of his “shirtless guy on the beach” role that was the only style of acting Hollywood wanted to pay him for. He tells his stories of wild success while keeping a tone of humility.

The title of the book “Greenlights” is the main premise surrounding the autobiography. McConaughey explains his meaning of the autobiography title by using a stoplight analogy.  

When life is hard and you are at the red light you have to keep pushing because eventually that light will turn green and when it does, that is your time to seize opportunities. McConaughey elaborates on the premise a lot deeper but that is the general ideology that I took away from it.

One of the most unique and extraordinary elements of the book surrounds the way McConaughey opens up each chapter. McConaughey has handwritten notes that he saved throughout his life which he unveils to the audience as a precursor to each chapter. 

Each note is then elaborated upon and given context into the deeper meaning it had on McConaughey’s journey through adolescence, fame and life.

“Be brave. Take the hill. But first answer the question, “What is my hill?” This small quote from “Greenlights” led to my biggest takeaway from the autobiography. Self-reflection is an important part of life and something that our generation is straying away from. 

Society today is hypercompetitive and the innovations of social media have had a vast impact on that. You are never truly alone because you can constantly distract yourself with thousands of “friends” on social media. Without taking the steps to self-reflect and truly understand what you want in life, you will never completely satisfy your wants.

McConaughey has given many motivational speeches that have gone viral and they are all excellent. He is such an inspiring motivational speaker because everything he says sounds pure and real. He utilizes communication elements effectively and portrays what he wants to say in a shell of entertainment that resonates with readers and listeners.

That famous “alright, alright, alright” voice is also his narration of the audiobook. This is an instance where I personally think you can take away more from listening to the audiobook. You hear the inflections in his voice change as he gets passionate about a situation and there is no room to misconstrue the meaning behind his words.

Don’t start reading “Greenlights” until you have quite a bit of time to spare because once you get through the first chapter it’s going to be difficult to put the book down. The autobiography serves up life lessons, spiritual elements, entertainment value and much more. 

McConaughey’s autobiography is hands down the best autobiography I have ever read and one of my personal favorite books. I highly recommend this read to anyone and everyone. I’m going to end this review with my favorite quote from “Greenlights”.

“The problems we face today eventually turn into blessings in the rearview mirror of life,” McConaughey writes. “In time, yesterday’s red light leads us to a green light. All destruction eventually leads to construction, all death eventually leads to birth, all pain eventually leads to pleasure. In this life or the next, what goes down will come up. It’s a matter of how we see the challenge in front of us and how we engage with it. Persist, pivot, or concede. It’s up to us, our choice every time.” 

Purchase your copy or download the audiobook.