Using Jezebel’s Midweek Madness feature, BuzzFeed examined tabloid headlines over the past two years to see who the magazine covers are calling crazy.
In order to make the cut, celebrities and reality stars on the covers had to be described in terms generally accepted as code for mental instability — like “crazy,” “meltdown,” “out of control,” “spiraling,” “bizarre behavior.” Terms like “drama” or “sad” are considered here to be insufficiently tied to mental health connotations. Coverage of celebrities considered troubled who had died (i.e. Whitney Houston) were also excluded.
We found that the answer is, almost exclusively, women. These findings speak to the kind of narrative tabloids prefer: ones that hand-wring (and obsess) over the supposed emotional and mental instability of women.
Below, the stars most frequently called crazy on covers over the past two years:
1. Demi Moore, 8 covers
Demi Moore was called crazy (in so many words) on 8 tabloid covers between May 2011 and May 2013.
2. Amanda Bynes, 3 covers
In the past two years, Amanda Bynes has (so far) appeared on three tabloid covers that suggest the star is mentally unstable.
3. Kim Kardashian, 3 covers
Kim Kardashian has been called crazy on three separate tabloid covers since May 2011.
4. Kris Kardashian, 3 covers
Kris Kardashian (Kim’s mom) has also been called crazy on three tabloid covers since May 2011.
5. Miley Cyrus, 3 covers
Three tabloid covers have questioning Miley’s mental stability in the past two years.
6. Angelina Jolie, 3 covers
Angelina Jolie has had her sanity questioned by three gossip magazine covers in the past two years.
7. Jessica Simpson, 2 covers
Jessica Simpson was twice referred to as having some form of “meltdown” on tabloid covers between May 2011 and today.
8. Jacqueline Laurita, 2 covers
Real Housewives of New Jersey star Jacqueline Laurita appeared on two tabloid covers that alleged mental instability.
9. Tied with 1 cover each: 20 other celebrities, 17 of whom are women
Over the past two years, 20 additional celebrities appeared on tabloid covers that suggested they were crazy. 17 of these were women: Rihanna, Britney Spears, Adrienne Maloof, Lindsay Lohan, Teresa Giudice, Leann Rimes, Farrah Abraham, Kate Middleton, Kourtney Kardashian, Melissa Gorga, Victoria Beckham, Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Lopez, Kelly Osbourne, Heather Locklear, Sandra Bullock, and Kendra Wilkinson.
Three men appeared on covers centered around these themes, but it’s notable that the narrative was different when the troubled star in question was a man. Prince Harry’s cover called him a “problem child,” implying a more youthful, fun, hard-partying type of problem than most women who appear in similar contexts. Tom Cruise’s cover was in reference to his Scientology practice. The only male star who really got the same treatment as allegedly “crazy” women was Russell Brand, called “a crazy man” in a cover line about his marriage to Katy Perry.