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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

ILL PHRASE POLICE PATROL: "It Is What It Is"

By RAYMOND CUMMINGS

When folks - in reflexively surrendering to what they perceive as an unchangeable circumstance or condition - lazily sigh "it it what it is," I cringe. Something toxic washes over me. The situation at hand suddenly feels just that much more hopeless and unsalvagable; any confidence hovering in the room evaporates. Department managers and rappers seem inordinately fond of the phrase, drawn to its dismissive, near-palindromic cool like lemmings to the edge of a yawning ravine. Said with an air of abject resignation, "it is what it is" stands in for "that's life" or "what will be will be" or Sopranos hands-thrown-up staple "whaddya gonna do?" Why not use one of these ancillary phrases, one wonders? Why not invent a new cliché to signal intractability? Why not say "rock meets hard place?" (Nobody ever says that. Which may be for the best.) In any event, "it is what it is" is unacceptable phraseology. and must be destroyed.

4 comments:

Liston said...

I'm rather fond of the phrase because it pretty much ends any conversation, regardless of what's being talked about.

Them: You've been emotionally unavailable lately, dear.
Me: It is what it is.

How can you not like something that ends THAT conversation?

Raymond Cummings said...

In theory, I see where you're coming from. In practice, I'm pretty sure it'd be a trainwreck. Sure, the ensuing laughter would likely steamroll the uncomfortable question, but ultimately I'd wind up feeling like a moron because I'd utilized "it is what it is" SERIOUSLY - not with irony or in order to illustrate how and why I loathe the phrase.

minorpoet said...

que sera sera, is that all there is?

Raymond Cummings said...

Not hardly, Doug! We're just on a break while I get my shit together on other fronts.