Yeah, there are quite a few people who are borderline psychotic when it comes to picking a side over Bay's films, regardless of which side they choose. IT'S A MOVIE!!!
Yes, I am also passionate about my favorite stories, characters, etc., but I don't get all bent out of shape because people don't agree. I admit, I used to, especially when it came to Rodimus. But I grew up a little since. My opinions haven't changed, but I do respect the difference between mine and the opinions of others, as well as others having the same rights to state theirs. But I guess that's another thing about the fandom: as you said, more and more younger people (13-17) are filing into the fandom and bring their first-time-experience with TFs into it. Which means they look at the TF Universe with Bay- or Animated-colored glasses. (Just picking the most recent complete works; and I loved Animated) I won't comment much on Prime, because I have seen very little. What I did see I liked. Anyway, with younger people come less maturity. There are quite a few people who were around when G1 or even Beast Wars came out (putting us into our late 20s-30s) but I'm going to make an assumption (yeah, I know what they say) that fans 26 and older are in the minority to fans 25 and younger. I agree with you on the amount of exposure and diversity of venues available to newer/younger fans as opposed to us (as I said, for me it was comics, toys and cartoon; in that order, which is why I am a huge Marvel fan) but just as with everything else online and due to technology these days, people just don't vest as much interest and time into things, and thus don't get as attached. Things become less valuable in terms of emotional investment, and it's the same for the TF Universe. This is also somewhat Hasbro and Takara's fault, as well as IDW and other sources, as some characters and stories have become so bastardized, they lose all uniqueness and special relatability. (Is that even a word?) Perhaps the most famous example is Optimus dying. In 1986 it damn near broke my heart, and I wasn't even a big Optimus fan. Now, I just shrug when it happens. It kinda took me aback a bit in RoTF, but maybe because it was on the big screen and my ears and eyes were totally under assault. (In a good way
OK, before I write a novel, let me just say that not everyone in the fandom is the same and not everyone is responsible for all the good or bad things that are said and done. I know you know this because in a previous post you broke the fandom up into percentages. But regarding your last statement, I have to disagree when you lump everyone
together. It's not fair to those of us who are mature and smart enough to take a step back and look at things with a level head. And yes, I count myself one of these fans. I may have grown up on G1, but I am most certainly not TRUKK NOT MUNKY!!! and there's very little I dislike about the TF Universe as a whole when it comes to products, whether they be toys or series. I do have my favorites, but that doesn't mean I disregard others with different opinions. (I'm not saying you're doing this, I'm just speaking for myself.)
And lastly, I wholeheartedly disagreed with Roger Ebert on RoTF and DotM. I think he reviewed DotM so poorly just to spite the people who gave him crap about his RoTF review. But, he looks at it as a general moviegoer not as a TF fan, and it's just his opinion. Clearly, by the bank these films made, not many listened to him. I certainly didn't. Then again, I am generally opposing of critics of any kind, unless it's someone who's been there and done it before, which Ebert certainly hasn't.