Regina Hall's COVID Joke At The Oscars Had Fans Talking For All The Wrong Reasons

Academy Awards' hosts have a tough job on their hands. They have to keep the audience entertained and the action moving along, while maintaining their cool even in the face of technical snafus, unexpected moments, and failed jokes. Some hosts over the years have been experts (think: Billy Crystal turning Jack Palance's one-armed pushups into a night-long running joke). Others have been less successful (the less said about David Letterman's "Uma? Oprah" schtick, the better). 

This year, the Oscars made history by inviting three women to host: Amy Schumer, Regina Hall, and Wanda Sykes. The three joked about being cheaper to hire than one male actor, and took aim at such targets as the less-than-diverse Golden Globes, the performers overlooked for nominations, Florida's controversial "Don't Say Gay" bill, and "The Power of The Dog," which Sykes admitted being "halfway through" after three tries (via The Hollywood Reporter). However, later in the show, Hall had a moment all her own that has the internet divided: Was it a tables-turning message or just a cringe-fest?

Regina Hall's pat-down rubbed some viewers the wrong way

Appearing alone onstage in an off-the-shoulder pink ruffled number, Regina Hall announced to the Academy Awards audience that some of their pre-show COVID tests had been "lost" (via ABC). She then proceeded to call up actors such as Timothée Chalamet and Simu Liu to take the test backstage, telling them to remove their masks — and clothes — so she could perform a throat swab "with [her] tongue." 

The bit went on — too long, some said — as Josh Brolin and Jason Momoa came onstage to present the Best Sound award. There, she gave them a "health check" by subjecting the actors to a full body pat-down. The internet exploded with comments even before Hall left the stage. Some saw the segment as a sly role reversal at a time when powerful Hollywood men are being called to account for harassment. However, others were disgusted. "Cringe. Can you imagine if men started patting women down? Holy cow," said one. Another viewer agreed, saying, "That was awful! Completely inappropriate and way overboard and long. Brolin and Momoa looked incredibly uncomfortable too."

Piers Morgan was among the more prominent names weighing in. The British columnist and TV personality remarked, "Interesting to see a female celebrity make lewd sexual jokes about male stars and physically grope them on stage. Of course, if a man did that, he'd be immediately cancelled. The double standard is laughable."