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:
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.