Sunday Snippet: Matthew McConaughey

“Sometimes you got to go back to actually move forward, and I don’t mean going back to reminisce, or chase ghosts, I mean going back to see where you came from, where you’ve been, how you got here and see where you’re going. I know there are those that say you can’t go back. Yes, you can. You just have to look in the right place.”

You’ve likely seen the new series of Lincoln commercial spots featuring Matthew McConaughey waxing poetic. While we are led on what should be a philosophical and inspirational journey, the commercials have also become a point of ridicule. Maybe you have even seen the Jim Carrey parody on Saturday Night Live.

But is there really some substance to what he’s saying?

In many ways, the “character” of Matthew McConaughey portrayed in the ad is mirroring the pensive style of the character he played on True Detective, Detective “Rust” Cohle. Both in his interviews with the investigating police officers and in his interactions with Woody Harrelson’s character, Cohle would lead them on these long philosophical monologues that explored the deeper meaning of reality, all while really saying not much at all.

And that’s how we come to first interpret what McConaughey says in that first car commercial. Upon further inspection, though, we learn that there really might be something there… just like Cohle’s ramblings. In this case, we are reminded of the importance of knowing your past and contemplating the decisions you made along the way. You’re allowed to make mistakes. You just have to learn from them in such a way that allows you to move forward.

In some ways, this could be a commentary on Matthew McConaughey’s acting career. In the 1990s, he came to be a respected leading man with a broad range of dramatic movies. As we entered the early 2000s, though, he started taking on far less serious roles in romantic comedies instead, getting better known for taking his shirt off and living on the beach than for his acting ability.

And it was after a decade of this that Matthew McConaughey may have had precisely the introspective moment depicted in the Lincoln commercial. It was at that time that he returned to respectability with True Detective and Dallas Buyers Club. He finally learned the value of staying true to yourself and he was able to learn this lesson by looking back to the right time and place in his career.

“I’ve been driving a Lincoln long before anyone ever paid me to drive one. I didn’t do it to be cool. I didn’t do it to make a statement. I just liked it.”

Now whether there is actually any truth to McConaughey actually driving a Lincoln before they decided to hire him for the ad is questionable. What we can say is that Lincoln, as an automaker and a brand, may be going through a similar introspective evaluation. It too may be pondering its direction moving forward. Lincoln may have once been viewed as an industry elite and it now aims to restore that former glory.

To that I say alright, alright, alright.