A larger point is that one of the reasons that people (especially journalists) feel like the MLA is an allowable target is because of what they perceive as the low barrier of entry. Anyone can (or should, at least) read novels, poems, short stories, etc. So why do these pretentious fops get up there and pretend they know so much better than the rest of us? Huh? HUH!?!? Relax. We do know more. It's only a delusion that makes you think that you know enough about the problems of literary interpretation to demand that its professional discourse make perfect sense to you. It's an understandable delusion, but one that you can cure yourself of quickly enough by reading everything ever written about, for example, Frank Norris over the next five or so years. Now write three hundred pages of scholarship on him that advances something new and takes into account the relevant developments in literary history and interpretation. After you've completed this exercise, which I'm sure any Chronicle journalist or average blogopath could do in record time, then you'll realize just how little is actually known about how literature works and the reason why professional attempts to analyze it are fraught with jargon and assumptions of prior knowledge.
Now it is true that writing good literary criticism is hard. The barriers to entry on the production side are high. But it plainly does not follow that barriers to entry on the consumption side should be correspondingly high. Why should reading good literary criticism be hard?
Ditto for knowledge: anyone who writes a good book on Frank Norris knows more about the man than your average journalist. It does not follow that a good book about Norris has any business whatsoever being too abstruse for your average journo.
Ditto for lack of knowledge: from the fact that the workings of literature are obscure, it does not follow that the inner workings of writings about literature have any business being obscure. (We are skirting close to Yvor Winter's fallacy of imitative form here: don't feel you have to write obscurely about obscure things.) In general, I do not see that impatience with obscurity has anything much to do with faith in easy or obvious answers.
Putting the point a slightly different way: if one has high hopes for achieving technicality eventually - and there is nothing wrong with that - that is still no reason to pretend to have achieved it yet.
Which brings us to my final point: it is just not clear that the jargony quality of much current literary criticism is mostly due to the difficulty of the subject-matter (which is not to deny that the matter really is difficult). Not to be too harsh, but it is reasonable - it seems to me - to take nothing on credit hereabouts. If something appears to make no sense whatseover, proceed on the assumption that it probably makes no sense whatsoever. To the degree that the professional discourse is obscure, distrust it. It is by no means clear this is not a sane heuristic.
Of course, none of this amounts to a license to judge MLA talks solely by their silly titles. (We bloggers are fond of silly, snarky titles for our posts, after all. We ought to understand how this sort of aesthetic can arise. A silly title is strictly consistent with the presence of genuine intellectual content.) I know it bugs Chun that he thinks cheap shots are getting taken, and I can sympathize up to a point. Certainly it is natural to vent some steam when you think you have been on the receiving end of cheap shots. But it seems to me Chun seriously understates the difficulty of making out the case for critical difficulty.
The basic question here is quite fundamental - and strictly detachable from suspicions about the decadence of the MLA. Since the dawn of time, man has wondered: exactly when, and for what reasons, is literary criticism justified in being too hard for the average Chronicle of Higher Education journalist to read?