People tend to say, "It is what it is" in conversation when they want to describe something as self-describable or straightforward.
To this point, as far as I know, I am the sole linguistic warrior engaged in battle against this phrase. I have chosen a bloody fight to the death, and as is typically the case with cultural catchphrases, I will meet great resistance. But similar to the joke phrase "...not!" my hope is that English speaking culture will realize what an ill catchphrase this is and drop it like that dried old turd you thought was a wood chip.
Let's get lexical.
- We have 40,000 English adjectives at our disposal. As simple and seductive as it may be to describe something as "what it is", there is a high percentage chance that at least one actual adjective will apply to it, even within our personally limited vocabularies.
- If I were to use this phrase in a debate where well-educated people were listening and critically thinking about what I was saying, I would lose major points. (Unless the audience was gaga for catch phrases and easily swayed by base rhetoric - then the choice of how I present my position becomes one of integrity.)
- It is a 'dumb down' phrase. Be it by lack of effort, lack of lexicon, or lack of creativity, when we use phrases like this we do interest a disservice.