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Author Topic: Character Study of the Week: Thomas Hogarth  (Read 2463 times)

Grey

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Character Study of the Week: Thomas Hogarth
« on: 30 March 2015, 05:50:42 »
Character Study of the Week: Thomas Hogarth

Who: Thomas Hogarth
What:
   Leutnant (assumed to be first rank entering the LCAF in 3024), 22nd Skye Rangers
   Hauptmann, 7th Donegal Guards
   Kommandant, LCAF, Liason for Condor Trans-Track Project
   Leftenant General, CO, Furillo Tamarind March Militia
   Colonel, CO, Furillo Bolan Province Militia
        Leutnant-General, LCAF, Coalition Liason
   Presenter, The Armchair General, Donegal Broadcasting Company
When: 3007 - ?? ?? ??
Weapon of Choice:    AS7-D Atlas (presumed due to time period active)
                                AS7-S Atlas
                 AS7-D-H Atlas II
                 DFN-3S Defiance
                 Being Thomas Hogarth
                 The ballroom
                 The buffet table
                 After dinner drinks

Effectively a running gag in Battletech since his introduction in Field Manual: Lyran Alliance, in a militia unit description no less, Thomas Hogarth has somehow become one of the more prominent generals within the late 31st Century LCAF, and a character that just can’t be stopped.

The most charitable description of the man from within the setting Thomas Hogarth is an one of those people who gets by on an overinflated reputation, more accurately he is an example of one of those people promoted because it was the easiest means of getting them out of the way, to reward them for some apparent good effort, regardless of how said effort came about, and put them in a prominent positon without the power to do anything.

Doubtless we all have tales of this sort of individual, and in something the size of the Battletech universe there had to be at least one of prominence. Making him a Lyran Social General is just the obvious way of dealing with it.

From the perspective of the average reader Thomas Hogarth is essentially a meme, he turns up in some of the most unlikely places doing whatever Thomas Hogarth does and getting away with it.

His military victories consist of a single tactic: Stumble around blindly and get lucky. And while he tends to make connections that are of questionable worth rather than of clear gain (Iris Steiner may have been a prominent noble on the world he was stationed on but there was little gain in the connection beyond said world and antagonised the more politically powerful Caesar steiner) he manages to make the most of them, never quite coming out on top but still managing to profit in some form.

Facing the Allies during the Civil War, showing up in opinion pieces, retroactively turning up in a TRO during his days as a Kommandant, valiantly fighting WoBbies in Singapore on Terra, if there would have been a reasonably feasible means he could have been on Strana Mechty outrunning an orbital strike from McKenna’s Pride in his Atlas, clutching the giftake of Ulric Kerensky in one mechanical fist and Kali Liao in the other as he ran from the burning bloodchaple, punting ProtoMechs all the way. Thankfully there wasn’t.

In the beginning he was little more than a sidenote to indicate that the stereotypical Lyran Social General had some basis in reality, as all stereotypes do, however unfortunately. Given the sheer numbers of personalities in the setting getting slight mentions there had to be at least one who epitomised the worst of the stereotype. He is far from the only Social General, however those that do reach his rank can usually back it up with decent to phenomenal military capability or at least significant political clout such as Katherine Steiner’s political appointees.

Thomas Hogarth is something of an oddity, he has none of these attributes. In fact, in a setting where the more political a character the more villainous they are it could be said that Thomas Hogarth simply isn’t.

He doesn’t wheel, he doesn’t deal, he doesn’t betray in the normal manner by selling anyone out, he just says a few words at the buffet table not out of malice but simple self-aggrandisement, whatever happens to his foe isn’t a consideration.

This is part of what makes him seemingly harmless, he’s not political, his strengths are in the social arena and while certainly self-aggrandising, are not manipulative and so blatantly obvious as to be laughable from an exterior reader and in internal character perspective. This means in the traditional Battletech sense he is essentially harmless.

Indeed, he is more often seen, or at least reported, in a BattleMech than doing anything remotely political. Given that this is a man who classed Zeuses and Banshees as lighter equipment putting him in anything less than an Atlas to start with would undermine what he is. That he eventually wound up in a 75 ton Defiance just perpetuates the joke.

These traits also add to his charm, he’s inoffensive and from a reader perspective entertaining. Indeed, as a successful Social General charm is a part of his arsenal, without which he wouldn’t have gotten far.

This isn’t to say he isn’t trouble, his opinions are deadly to the average Lyran trooper if he were ever put in a position to action any of them.

Unfortunately there are going to be those within the setting who are going to listen to him just because his Leeroy Jenkins level of success has granted him a degree of public credibility, after all the average person won’t know the circumstances of his victories, which leaves Lyran command few options but to promote him until he’s in an isolated position with little actual influence over the military.

How this translates into a leadership position within the Coalition during the assault on Terra can only be the result of being put in said isolated position within the Lyran contribution and then almost everyone above him getting killed until he was the only one left to fill the slot.

To the general public of the Battletech universe this may not seem like a problem, Thomas Hogarth is already a hero, to the actual people in charge they can only hope that he gets killed or his subordinates have enough intelligence and initiative to mitigate his worst orders.

Until the day he does something too big, both in reputation and in potential consequences. In which case it makes sense that he winds up as the host of a TV opinion show. He’s too much of a hero to discharge, but he can be convinced to take retirement with the benefit of a cushy, well-paying job afterwards before they have to promote such a hero of the Jihad into a position where he can enact his hazardous ideas.

Sidebars in various Jihad sourcebooks play up this image, the Social General buffoon who stumbles from one heroic seeming victory to another, so much so that the idea he is doing it deliberately has taken hold, and rightly so because the previously mentioned making of connections and profiting from them even when things sour can’t all be purely chance, he must be doing something to save his skin each time.

It’s hilarious to watch him, deliberately or otherwise, bumble from one situation to another and still come out on top because no one has any better idea what to do with him.

And then the humour sours when we find out through a heavily redacted statement from his Blakist opposite in Singapore that Hogarth basically stomped the city into the ground and committed low level war crimes against a foe that would have gladly surrendered if Hogarth hadn’t (seemingly, his actual thoughts are never revealed) been more focused on glory than getting the job done efficiently.

So Thomas Hogarth is a joke, in part because he is a joke that fits in with the setting and in part because the same setting is too big not to have jokes. And while he can become grating and annoying the simple truth is that jokes like this exist, and provide counterpoint to more dramatic characters, and as Singapore shows, will frequently provide counterpoint themselves.

Love him or loathe him for these tendencies the inescapable truth is that he has catalysed events, impacted the setting and has become a part of the universe to the point where in 3145 he has a nephew carrying on the family tradition.

Frabby

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Thomas Hogarth
« Reply #1 on: 30 March 2015, 06:18:12 »
Minor point really, but technically, Thomas Hogarth's first appearance was as early as 1989 in the 20 Year Update, page 27, where Leftenant General Thomas Hogarth is listed as CO of the Furillo TMM (Green experience, questionable loyalty). This is in the Ford Theater, CO Marshal Caesar Steiner.
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Wrangler

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Thomas Hogarth
« Reply #2 on: 30 March 2015, 22:46:33 »
I'm glad Thomas Hogarth came into becoming a "meme".   Jihad was hollowing experience, some of fun for me in the game was lost over the years when there was cheeky/quirky sense of humor dashed into the game.  His presence helps light mood perhaps a little.

Thanks for that insightful write up on, Tommy "Stumbles" Hogarth.
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Re: Character Study of the Week: Thomas Hogarth
« Reply #3 on: 31 March 2015, 00:00:44 »
the closest character I have seen to TH is in our British Cousins stories regarding Commisar Ciphas Cain.  not as long lived, but more developed and every bit as endearing.  frankly I would love to have a series of parody stories  surrounding TH in a similar fashion, particularly if we could see either his insecurites, or even better, his delusions of granduer
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JadeHellbringer

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Thomas Hogarth
« Reply #4 on: 31 March 2015, 11:46:57 »
Minor point really, but technically, Thomas Hogarth's first appearance was as early as 1989 in the 20 Year Update, page 27, where Leftenant General Thomas Hogarth is listed as CO of the Furillo TMM (Green experience, questionable loyalty). This is in the Ford Theater, CO Marshal Caesar Steiner.

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Thomas Hogarth
« Reply #5 on: 31 March 2015, 12:40:20 »
And then the humour sours when we find out through a heavily redacted statement from his Blakist opposite in Singapore that Hogarth basically stomped the city into the ground and committed low level war crimes against a foe that would have gladly surrendered if Hogarth hadn’t (seemingly, his actual thoughts are never revealed) been more focused on glory than getting the job done efficiently.

This is an important turning point in his career.  Early on, when he stumbled on the rebel Mobile HQ and neutralized it the Lyran media played him up.  They played up his accomplishment of a lucky shot against the Blakists, which, say what you want, he put the cross hairs there and pulled the trigger.  No such thing as luck.  They downplayed his actions in Singapore.  Thomas Hogarth is a media figure.  He may not be good at his job, but he's likeable.  In the LCAF that means something.  For Stone's Coalition that means something, even after he proved himself incapable. 
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SteelRaven

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Thomas Hogarth
« Reply #6 on: 31 March 2015, 13:35:22 »
Singapore also shows how deadly a incompetent commander can be. Hogarth may have inflicted more damage to the people of Singapore than the Blakist ever did.
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ckosacranoid

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Thomas Hogarth
« Reply #7 on: 31 March 2015, 19:41:01 »
Its nice to see some one writting up everyones fav clown in battletech. This was amusing. I did not know he had been around that long. I though he was just a jihid thing.

mikecj

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Thomas Hogarth
« Reply #8 on: 31 March 2015, 20:40:19 »
Singapore also shows how deadly a incompetent commander can be. Hogarth may have inflicted more damage to the people of Singapore than the Blakist ever did.

The notes to the prosecutor also shows that Stone's folks are as gray a faction as any other...
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Re: Character Study of the Week: Thomas Hogarth
« Reply #9 on: 31 March 2015, 21:34:43 »
The notes to the prosecutor also shows that Stone's folks are as gray a faction as any other...

This hasn't been in doubt since 2007.
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Re: Character Study of the Week: Thomas Hogarth
« Reply #10 on: 31 March 2015, 23:25:21 »
Since its founding the Republic has tried to portray itself as the moral center- Knights, Paladins, ... good old Victor the non-politician etc.

The novels showed off its true greyness... but until Jihad Hotspots Terra, the Republic was painted pretty white in the source books.  Of course compared to the WoB everyone gets a few shades lighter (except maybe the Regulans).
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SteelRaven

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Thomas Hogarth
« Reply #11 on: 01 April 2015, 00:50:09 »
My point was up that Thomas Hogarth misadventures can be laughed off as the comical actions up until Singapore, then we have him knocking over landmarks and shooting civilians. Accidentally shooting the enemy is kinda funny, accidentally shooting civilians is kinda horrifying.

Think Hogarth finally found his place as a TV personality.     
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Frabby

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Thomas Hogarth
« Reply #12 on: 01 April 2015, 01:59:22 »
It fits with the dark gritty mood of the Jihad era that even running gags like Hogarth would take a much darker turn, with his antics suddenly killing innocents instead of bad guys and causing serious grief. Not funny, but fitting.
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Grey

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Re: Character Study of the Week: Thomas Hogarth
« Reply #13 on: 01 April 2015, 05:36:35 »
One thing I've found in doing this series is that there's no black and white when it comes to factions, there's grey, greyer, greyest and grey enough to be black but we can all see the shade or two of difference.

Even the Blakists did some good work and had good intentions, or had people who were in it to do good and defend the region around Terra rather than fight yet another war. Manei Domini make it easy to forget this.

A key factor in this is time, the longer a character or faction runs around and gets written about the greyer their portrayal will become. Happened to the Kerensky's, the Star League, Victor, it's no surprise that it happened to Thomas Hogarth though the way it happened was, and as a faction that had to deal in political as well as military realities the Republic had to be grey. Albeit a lighter shade than other factions but it was never going to be able to live up to the ideals it professed.

Actually I'm now seeing parallels between this and a little something I've just posted. And not in a comfortable way. :(

 

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