Taylor Swift, Tom Hiddleston

MiamiPIXX/AKM-GSI/Magic Mike/FAMEFLYNET

After noticing some suspicious signs that suggested the possibility of Hiddleswift being just for show, a precursor to a Lemonade-style, long-form video, we thought the whole project had reached its denouement on the Fourth of July.

Because why else would Tom Hiddleston be wearing a white tank top stamped with "I ♥ T.S." if not to burst through that fourth wall to tell the world: "And...scene."

No one wears such things if not for performance art or publicity...right?

Well, while neither of those possibilities can be ruled out entirely, it's starting to look like what we have here is a real couple, albeit one that is most certainly playing it up for the cameras, is entirely aware of what it's doing and is having a smashing good time doing it.

Sit down, this is about to get meta.

I guess it all starts with the cold, hard fact that we just don't know that much about Tom Hiddleston. We assumed he was a certain way because he was Loki, because he was rumored to be in consideration to play James Bond, because he's British and therefore endlessly charming on talk shows. He has been quoted repeatedly talking about how he has put all non-acting pursuits on the back burner while he devotes himself to his career.

Tom Hiddleston, Taylor Swift

AKM-GSI

We figured the 35-year-old from Westminster couldn't possibly either be genuinely into Taylor because [insert all snide, cynical reasons here] or be the type of chap who would willingly embark on a zero-to-100 PDA parade for any reason, be it publicity or because he's—perish the thought—enjoying himself.

So it was easier to assume there was something wrong with this picture. Something other, that is, then what is screwy about this situation no matter which way you look at it.

Namely, what are they doing? Why the transatlantic victory lap? Why so public, you crazy lovebirds?

That's the sticking point that has people wondering whether Taylor is putting us on, with Tom along for the ride, because seemingly no one in her right mind goes to the biggest tourist attraction in Rome, in heels (you're never not walking on ruins in Italy), when she's ostensibly just trying to enjoy a private, romantic getaway. No one meets each others' parents two weeks in, no one has just one intrepid photographer on their tail in this day and age. And no one looks up at the camera in the distance—and smirks.

Which is why, despite the mounting evidence—including, most recently, Taylor's closest friends giving Tom their stamp of approval (the squad consolidates to save ink)—that they're a genuine couple, there's still some sort of ulterior motive at play.

Blake Lively, Ryan Reynolds, Taylor Swift, Tom Hiddleston

Splash News

First, while she may really think that Tom could be "the one" and her friends have "never seen her this happy," how much of this is Taylor sticking it to Calvin Harris?

Because if these weren't celebrities, we'd be dealing with a plain old case of over-sharing and grandstanding in order to show one's ex-boyfriend what's what, that she doesn't miss him, that he's the one missing out, that she's hotter than ever, all of her pals like the new guy and they don't miss him, and, for that matter, "Calvin who?"

E! News had heard from a source that Calvin didn't cheat and, while he's the one who broke it off, he was a little dismayed by Taylor's post-split behavior. Meanwhile, the DJ-producer has been going the very mature, Snapchat-and-pretend-to-chill route, but it seems to be reactionary and not the course he would have taken if Taylor hadn't subliminally challenged him to a duel that he has no chance of winning.

Calvin Harris Snapchat

Snapchat

Then there's the possibility that Taylor's behavior has nothing whatsoever to do with Calvin, and she just happens to have found a willing partner in crime right when she decided that now was the time to lead the world on a low-speed goose chase and take her endlessly public life to a new level. Not because she wishes people would leave her alone. But rather because, since no one will ever leave her alone, she may as well lay it on extra thick.

"In 10 years of touring and writing albums, and having my confessional songwriting misunderstood, misconstrued, paraphrased, investigated, I've never wavered. This is the way I want to live my life," Taylor told NME last fall, shutting down the idea that part of her wished she could walk down the street unnoticed.

"I'm in the news every single day for multiple different reasons. And it can feel, at times, if you let your anxiety get the better of you, like everybody's waiting for you to really mess up—and then you'll be done. A lot of the time I need to call my mom and talk for a really long time, just to remind myself of all the things that are great and all the things that matter. If you do something that defines your character to be not what the public thought you were, that's the biggest risk."

Speaking of what the public thinks she is, there's been plenty of chatter as well about whether or not her feelings—either then or now—have been genuine, since she seems to be in a new-and-improved state as far as her love life is concerned. And since her breakup songs have been so heartfelt and relatable...just what was Taylor singing about before?

Taylor Swift, 1989 Album Cover

Actually, when you really analyze it, Taylor hasn't sung a lot about love, per se. What she has sung a lot about are feelings and intimate moments that she thought meant something else, about picking fights because she's so frustrated she doesn't know what else to do, about guys abruptly changing their minds, about falling hard and fast, only to find out that it was not meant to be.

"Love Story" is an obvious fairy tale, after all, while the likes of "You're Not Sorry," "All Too Well," "I Knew You Were Trouble" and "Style" have something for everybody.

And while most prefer their Taylor Swift songs angsty and/or reflective, this time she might have put her foot down as far as actually living that way is concerned. Which, in her world, could very well be one of those big risks she was talking about.

"Not to try and sound like the good witch in The Wizard Of Oz or something, but I really do want to do good things with what I have, and that's it," she also told NME, roughly 10 months ago. "I don't think my brain could cook up very shocking things for the sake of being shocking."

But nothing like a slow and steady simmer to keep people on their toes.

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