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Inside Matthew McConaughey's Friendship With Controversial Male Rights Activist Jordan Peterson

Photo: Featureflash Photo Agency & Tony Norkus / Shutterstock
Matthew McConaughey and Jordan Peterson

Jordan Peterson has made countless controversial and confusing statements about gender politics, but perhaps his most bewildering public persona of all is as a friend to Matthew McConaughey. 

McConaughey has long been Hollywood’s resident “cool guy” with a laid-back attitude that would make anyone assume he was reasonably progressive, as far as politics were concerned.

But don’t let the surfer style and zen drawl fool you — McConaughey has been making friends in far-right circles for some time now. 

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His book tour for the 2020 release of his memoir, Greenlights, made pit stops at The Joe Rogan Experience and at male rights activist Jordan Peterson’s podcast

And while this was all in the name of promo, McConaughey seems to be making a very deliberate attempt to pitch his book to the audiences of these controversial figures who are vanguards of the so-called “intellectual dark-web”.

McConaughey’s Joe Rogan appearance is less surprising, as the podcast host has spoken to everyone from Miley Cyrus to Milo Yiannopoulos.

But McConaughey’s friendship with Jordan Peterson reveals some not-so-liberal truths about the Oscar-winning actor. 

Peterson is a champion of male rights and many debunked anti-trans theories.

Peterson has taken a stab at many progressive social and political issues, but his main enemy is “political correctness” in general. Most of his podcast and public speaking is spent critiquing liberal “snowflakes” who want basic human rights. 

In 2016, he zeroed in on Canadian legislation that prohibited discrimination based on gender-pronouns. Peterson promoted the false idea that this legislation would allow people to be arrested for misgendering trans and non-binary people.  

Since then, he has become something of a self-help guru for those clinging to their masculinity. Most recently, he has been making headlines for his drug addiction and a possible schizophrenia diagnosis. 

McConaughey’s memoir was inspired by Peterson’s controversial career.

Thus, it is interesting — albeit concerning — that McConaughey made a point of thanking Peterson not only in their conversation together, but in a dedicated section at the back of Greenlights

McConaughey told Peterson that his work gave him the motivation to write his memoir. 

“Many of the things you said I had been thinking about, but I heard you putting them into words and contexts, I was like, Wow, that’s what I’m talking about, that’s what I’m trying to get to,” he told the podcast host. “And a lot of it goes back to self-determination, which we’ve talked a lot about. Self-authoring.”

McConaughey does specify that it is Peterson’s vulnerability and humility in his more recent self-help work that inspired him.

That work does sway between far-right radicalization and more centristic views, but the general theme is that men and women — the only genders that Peterson recognizes — would be better off under traditional gender roles and monogamy should be enforced

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McConaughey and Peterson also defended Louis C.K.

The two have bonded over another controversial figure, which gives us further insight into what has led McConaughey to strike up a friendship with Peterson. 

In their conversation, they discuss the harms associated with cancel culture, a phenomenon that both the left and right can probably agree has its flaws. 

But McConaughey and Peterson’s choice of Louis C.K. as an example of someone wrongfully targetted by political correctness perhaps says more about these men than cancel culture itself. 

“There's plenty of people who do unseemly things but not — but very few of them are as masterful a comedian as Louis C.K.,” Peterson argues while McConaughey nods along in agreement, “So do we want to lose him because he’s flawed?”

The flaws and “unseemly things” include accusations of sexual misconduct that the comedian himself admitted to. 

McConaughey agrees that people must be forgiven and permitted to change.

All noble and fair statements if we weren’t talking about someone who has continued to profit off jokes about school shootings and sexually harassing women even after he was “canceled.” 

Some of McConaughey’s past comments have teetered towards the right. 

The actor has become something of a public critic of what he calls “illiberals”. In 2017, he urged Hollywood to “embrace” Trump’s presidency. 

In his conversation with Russel Brand above, he accused the left of trying to “condescend, patronize or [be] arrogant towards that other 50 percent.” 

The comments are somewhat familiar for supporters of progressive politics, but McConaughey seems equally reluctant to side with the right entirely.

In the same conversation, he advocated for “aggressive” centrism as he sympathized with both the right and left. 

And while it’s hard to critique a rare glimpse of egalitarianism in such divisive times, joining forces with figures like Jordan Peterson tells us more about Matthew McConaughey’s politics than he may be willing to let on. 

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Alice Kelly is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. She is a generalist with an interest in lifestyle, entertainment, and trending topics.